The Past : Where the story begins.
|Maerdy has had an extremely traumatic history during the past one hundred years, being plunged from a rural community into a notorious and world famous industrial area in a short ten year period from 1876. During the years following that upheaval a community grew which created many facets to its daily life.|
|The central core of this rapidly expanding community, other than the
black gold beneath its feet, was the chapels and the welfare institutions or working mens
clubs as they came to be known. The members of both types of organisation were inevitably
from two different culture groups, but both groups were drawn together during their shifts
underground when each were dependent upon the other for their safety and survival. There
was no place for culture groups in the dark, dusty, damp and dangerous underground world.
As a result of the affiliation by way of their employment, a link grew between all members of the community in the form of sport, but moreso in art and performing art to the greater extent. The drama group, the male voice choir, the operatic society, the childrens choir, the dance club, the craft guilds and the writing circles became classless organisations without boundaries or qualification for membership.
|The advent of trade unions and the comradeship of miners reinforced and supported these new art based organisations and an unofficial education process was created, with writing and widespread reading being a natural outcome. Most villages were the home of a Miners Institute, with many of them containing a library of thousands of books on many subjects.|
national awards won by Maerdy based organisations, the productions performed in famous
venues and the numerous photographs of different activities both home and away are still
discussed today. Discussed to such an extent that the Community Centre founded a Community
Archive, set up to collect and catalogue our very own heritage.
By the late 1940's and early 1950's the changes in world order and the advancement of technology in the form of television, cinema and transport had a major effect on the social and cultural life of Maerdy. The local disco, feature film, television programme and licensing of the working mens clubs, which then became limited companies and abandoned their welfare status, along with the impending rundown of the coal industry had a devastating effect on the arts in Maerdy and the Rhondda in general.
|The performing venues disappeared and some were taken over by the new club act circuits of South Wales and the North of England, performances were now imported rather than created locally.However, small pockets of the Rhondda did retain traditional performing venues, but sadly the only one to survive today, due to the intervention of the local authority, is the Parc & Dare Theatre in Treorchy.|
|This venue has supported a number of performing arts organisations during the decline which infected most other areas of the Rhondda, but unfortunately does not provide support for Maerdy and the Rhondda Fach due to its geographical position, cost and public transport difficulties.|