WELSH actor Rhys Ifans officially opened a £4m extension project at one of Wales’ leading arts venues in Caernarfon.

The Galeri’s new cinema complex was officially opened on Friday afternoon with a ribbon cutting ceremony and reception.

Speeches were given by Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas, Minister for culture, tourism and sport , Galeri CEO Gwyn Roberts and Rhys Ifans.

A bronze statue by local artist Llŷr Erddyn Davies was also unveiled outside with a speeches from Llŷr and Galeri patrons Mary and Gwyn Owen, who commissioned the artwork.

The new development at the Victoria Dock, mean’s the town will now has the only full-time dedicated two screen cinema in the region.

The new 800m2 extension means the Galeri, on Doc Victoria, now has two dedicated cinema screens, with119 seats and 65 seats, 3D capability, a new entrance and box office, public art/craft display areas, a meeting room and dedicated creative space for various workshops to be held.

Rhys, who is a Welsh speaker, was born in Haverfordwest, but has strong connections to the North Wales area. He is known for his numerous appearances in hit films including Notting Hill, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallowes Part I, and the Amazing Spider Man. It was his first public appearance since being unveiled as Film Cymru’s latest ambassador.

To celebrate the opening – a series of events took place throughout the day, with local school children attending a special session with Rhys Ifans. During the evening, a sold out theatre audience heard more about Rhys in an event chaired by Lisa Gwilym. Rhys Ifans said: “The greatest investment we can make as a society is to give people the opportunity to experience the arts, and I am so pleased to be opening the new cinema screens at Galeri.

“Film is such a powerful medium which can take us to another world, inspire us with great stories and teach us about the emotions that we all share. This important investment is a fantastic opportunity for the local community to be able to watch the latest films together on their doorstep.”

The opening of the Galeri’s new extension, is the latest of a long list of regeneration projects carried out by the social enterprise, Galeri Caernarfon Cyf (formerly Cwmni Tref Caernarfon).The trust have to date regenerated properties in Caernarfon with the development of Galeri on Victoria Dock the largest project to date.

The scheme has been seven years in the making by the social enterprise Galeri Caernarfon Cyf with financial support from the Arts Council of Wales (Lottery fund), the EU funded Tourism Attractor Destination programme, led by Visit Wales, and through Welsh Government’s VVP scheme.

Gwyn Roberts, CEO said: “When you look at Caernarfon today, it’s easy to forget the condition the town was in back in 1992.

Now 15 years after work on Galeri began, opening the new extension really completes the building in terms of the facilities and what we can do here.”

The company now employ 51 local people, and within Galeri there are over 10 resident companies working within the creative industries – all employing staff and making an economic and cultural contribution to the area. We now house the first purpose built cinema in the town since 1984 – and we are delighted that Rhys Ifans agreed to officially open the screens.”

Among the funders of the project are Arts Council of Wales who awarded over £1.5m to the extension. This project is the first of a series of wider regeneration projects in Caernarfon to be completed. Galeri received £1.47m ERDF funding through Visit Wales’ TAD scheme towards the project.

Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport added:

Galeri received £1.47m ERDF funding through Visit Wales’ Tourism Attractor Destination scheme towards the project. Lord Elis-Thomas, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport added: “I’m delighted that the Welsh Government’s Tourism Attractor Destination Scheme funding has resulted in wider investment of £14m for Caernarfon, drawing on the town’s rich heritage and cultural assets to become the iconic destination it deserves to be.

“These new facilities here in Galeri will be a great asset for visitors to Caernarfon, providing them with an all-weather attraction.”

The development and implementation of whole project by the social enterprise Galeri Caernarfon Cyf has taken seven years.

It has been possible due to financial support from the Arts Council of Wales (Lottery fund), Visit Wales TAD scheme (ERDF funding) and through Welsh Government’s VVP scheme.