The EVI is a Grade II listed EVI ran by ProMo-Cymru. We are a landmark community venue dating back to 1849. We provide a programme of creative activities, learning and social enterprise developments. A variety of third sector organisations have settled into the EVI and we welcome over 5,000 people a month.
Banishing the drafts
It’s inevitable that a big historic public building like this has draughts and this was a big problem when it came to the EVI’s energy bills. Doors were left open all the time so it took more energy to heat up rooms, empty rooms were being heated when it wasn’t needed and tenants were using electric heaters to warm their rooms.
Following receiving £32,523 through the WCVA funded scheme we decided to use some of this to try banishing the drafts and improving the energy efficiency of the building.
Automatic door closers were fitted on top of the doors. Automatic controls were fitted on the radiators, meaning they activate only when the room is occupied. This saves energy on unnecessarily heating an empty room.
“We identified that the kitchen and the recording studio were the areas with the highest energy consumption,” explains Samantha James, Operations Coordinator at the EVI.
“So we had energy meters installed and we took corrective action to reduce the power requirements in the kitchen.”
Cold air and warm rooms
The hand driers in the toilets were replaced with eco-driers, which use cold air rather than warm air. This should reduce energy consumption and reduce the use of hand towels.
“Many of our tenants and hirers had been using electrical heaters to warm cold areas of the building. We’ve now installed energy efficient wall heaters which ensure safety and efficiency.” adds Samantha.
“The heaters are on 10 minute timers and are invaluable when it comes to eradicating cold spots.”
Using air to heat
ProMo-Cymru took over the running of the historic building over ten years ago, saving it from demolition. The building went through a huge regeneration and energy efficiency was top priority back then too. Two state of the art air heat pumps were installed.
The 40kW air source heat pumps were installed at the rear of the building and provided low-grade heat. These would work with the original cast iron radiators as well as installing SmartRads to keep the building warm. A gas boiler was also installed to supplement the heat pumps in extremely cold weather.
Problems and solutions
We carried out an inspection of the heat pumps when we were looking at making further energy efficiency changes and found that one was not operating. The pumps had been running at significantly different times on the compressors. There was a blocked condensate pipe with fluid leaking and the piping was too small and poorly insulated. The pumps were also operating at 50 degrees, which is expensive to run. It made up 41% of the EVI’s energy consumption.
But we didn’t have the funds to fix these issues and repair the heat pumps, resulting in having to use the back up gas boiler in the winter. This caused a spike in energy usage, while the inefficient heat pumps were still running and increasing consumption further.
EVi is ran by ProMo-Cymru. We are a landmark
community venue that provides a programme of creative
activities, learning and social
enterprise developments. We are home to a variety of third
sector organisations, welcoming over 5,000 people a month.
One aspect of the work
to reduce energy consumption at this historic building was the lighting
improvements, which we will look at in this article. We’ll also take a look at
why LED lighting is a good idea for all homes and buildings.
A massive 21%* of the EVi’s energy consumption went towards keeping all the lights on. It’s a big building so it needs a lot of light! (*Results of an energy review carried out by REW)
“Our lighting was out
of date and inefficient,” explains Samantha
James, Operations Coordinator at the EVi.
“The fluorescent tubes
were constantly shorting out, some of the diffusers were broken and we
were continuously purchasing new bulbs.”
The main hall is the
biggest space in the building. The space has been hired out for live
performances, conferences, exhibitions, private parties, weddings and more. But
two banks of lights in the main hall were not working, not a great look when
hiring out the space to people! But the cost of replacing them was high, not
just because they needed specialist bulbs, but also scaffolding had to be hired
and specialised electricians had to be called in repeatedly to fit them.
“We used some of the
£32,523 we received to source state of the art LED lighting for the hall,” said
“The scaffolding and
works were organised and carried out with no disruption to any of the groups
hiring the hall.”
And it’s not just the
hall that’s had a lighting make over. The entire buildings lighting has been
converted to LED.
benefits of LED *
LED, or a Light
Emitting Diode, uses up to 90% less energy. While a traditional bulb produces a
lot of heat to be able to produce light, an LED uses far less heat to do the
same thing and is therefore much more energy efficient.
Lighting can make up
to 20% of your energy bills so you can make significant savings by switching to
LED. They also last, about 20 times longer than a traditional light bulb,
meaning you don’t have to keep popping out to buy bulbs and change them all the
time. Another bonus is that LED bulbs are also recyclable, as they don’t
contain mercury like some older bulbs.
The good news for anyone who’s thinking of changing to LED is that there’s been a big reduction in prince since they first came out, and it’s not just spotlights anymore either. There’s now a wide range available, like bayonet, screw or strip lights even. (*Information source: 7 Reasons Why You Should Swap To LED Lighting – thegreenage.co.uk)
Check back with us soon when we’ll be
looking at the draught and heating improvement works that have been carried out
at the EVi.
At the start of June a group of young people took part in a Wildlife Garden Workshop at the Ebbw Vale Institute. They created bug hotels and seed bombs to help pollinating bugs and improve the area around the building.
The workshop began by building bug hotels, small wooden buildings that can house all kinds of insects and even some birds. These wooden structures will be attached to a big slab of AstroTurf and placed just outside the front of the EVI. This will create a small, elevated street for bugs to thrive in inside the community garden.
Before the buildings could be made ready for the bugs to move in though, it was time to smarten them up a little to catch the eye of passers-by. The young people got to work by painting the bug houses and bug hotels!
Attracting the bugs
“The three taller structures will mainly attract flying insects. Bees, butterflies and lacewings might like to nest inside them” explained Sam from Eggseeds.
“We stuffed some of the smaller houses full of sawdust with just a few small gaps to get in. This makes it ideal for beetles to burrow through. We added larger round holes to some of the smaller houses too, to make an ideal nesting place for birds.”
Once painted, the chalkboard roofs (good for writing messages on) were nailed to the buildings with power tools. The houses were then stuffed with sawdust and cut bamboo tubes. Sawdust stuffing creates a malleable environment for insects to burrow and nest inside. Think of all the extra surface area for their tiny bodies to slip into and crawl along. It’s hoped that the bamboo tubes will become a place for bees to lay eggs.
Bombing for blooms
With the bug buildings looking fantastic it was time to move on to the next activity – creating seed bombs. Seed bombing is an ancient Japanese organic farming technique, a way of seeding which is kinder to the land and protects the seeds from birds and other wildlife. This is a great way to increase biodiversity in your local area.
They used seeds that sprout hardy wildflowers. As the seeds are encased inside hard-packed earth, birds can’t easily eat them, giving them time to start growing.
How to create your own Seed Bombs:
Step 1: Scoop up some wet clay and mix it with some soil. Roll into a ball and make a dent with your finger
Step 2: Pick up two or three seeds and drop them into the dent. Any more and the seeds will be competing for resources and won’t grow to their full potensial
Step 3: Knead the seeds into the centre of the ball
Step 4: Throw the seed bomb onto any fertile or waste ground and hope that plants will grow
Be a wildlife hero
It doesn’t take much to make a difference to the biodiversity of your local area. Why not take some of the ideas above and create a paradise for birds and insects in your own garden? The participants were really happy with the finished results and headed off home having learnt some valuable skills thanks to the Eggseeds team for all their expertise and hard work.
This workshop was funded through the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme through the WCVA. The EVI received funding to improve energy efficiency at the building, increase the local biodiversity and involving the community through volunteering.
This is the latest in a series of articles on the many ways we’re promoting sustainability at the Ebbw Vale Institute. Read the others here:
‘Sustainability’ is everywhere at the moment, and the Ebbw Vale Institute is on board with this and has an on-going sustainability drive at the building and in the community. We held a plastic pollution workshop at the EVI for Earth Day.
Llamau’s Laura Wheeler, who was hosting the workshop, is
herself really passionate about plastic pollution. Laura started by showing the
young people attending some shocking images of plastic pollution, like birds
and marine wildlife being choked by debris or fishermen sailing through toxic
reefs. She then asked them how that made them feel.
How does plastic pollution make you feel?
“Sick“, came one answer.
“Sad“, said another.
“Guilty. Depressed. Ashamed. Shocked. Disgusted.”
Clearly, nobody is proud of the effect mankind’s
hunger for plastic has had on the planet’s oceans. But how does it affect us?
Plastic, plastic, everywhere
It was time to think about the prevalence of plastics in all areas of our lives. There are microbeads in skincare products and plastic in polyester clothes. Things made of card, glass or wood can even have small plastic additions. When you wash synthetic clothes tiny plastic microfibres get into the water supply. The fish digest this plastic and then we eat the fish. They took a look at medical equipment too, like asthma pumps, drips, jabs and more. It was agreed that this was a worthwhile exception.
The group considered the cost-benefit analysis of reducing our plastic usage. The average adult buys three plastic water bottles each week. If we stump up the extra cost for a nice reusable bottle, how long until we start making back that initial investment? When you’re on a tight budget, sadly, even a small initial cost can be a big deterrent. Should the government and big corporations be making it easier for individuals to make sustainable choices?
Making a difference
One workshop attendee mentioned that her brother
sometimes goes into the supermarket and dumps all his plastic packaging on the
checkout. Discussing this as a group they decided that this probably just
inconvenienced the workers at the supermarket and rarely got through to anyone
higher up in management or the supply chain
Laura showed some serious alternatives to plastic. When making sandwiches, for example, she packs them with beeswax wraps rather than cling film. You can use beeswax wraps as a lid on a jar too – pack it over the top and the heat of your hand will close the air gap. It’s antibacterial, nontoxic, and of course fully biodegradable. You can even make it at home should you wish to.
Then Laura showed a whole series of packaging and
plastic free products, from body scrubs to shampoos, probably one of the
easiest ways to cut plastic quite significantly from our lives.
One final tip from Laura: if you do have to buy
something in a plastic bottle, buy it in bulk and/or in concentrate, thus reducing
your plastic usage.
All in all it was a really successful session thinking about what little steps could be taken to improve our sustainability practices.
Over 5000 people a month visit us here at the EVi, with a wide variety of uses and users for this community building. Reducing energy usage in a large building like this creates major savings and helps reduce our carbon footprint.
Improving the building
This year marks the 170th year
of the EVi. It’s been over a decade since ProMo-Cymru took over
the running of the building. When we originally moved in, we knew that it
needed a lot of work to improve the fabric of the building. From the very
beginning we worked with the future in mind. We installed two state of the art
ground heat pumps to make heating more efficient. Thanks to this fund, we
will soon be implementing a number of other energy saving features.
We will also be involving the community as volunteers to help increase
biodiversity around the building.
efficiency and cost-saving may not sound very exciting to those using the
building, but it is very important to all that goes on at the EVi. This behind
the scenes work allows the EVi to continue to support the local
community. Over the next year we will be asking volunteers and staff to
share what makes it such a special place to work and play. We are
also excited to get the young people who use the building to share what they are
doing. We will broadcast everything over our digital channels. This ensures
that everyone gets to see the work that ProMo-Cymru and the community does to
develop sustainability in Ebbw Vale.
Ebbw Vale Institute is a regenerated building full of story and culture. For a long time it existed to promote cultural exchange in the neighbourhood; now EVi’s doors are open again, with a wide variety of cultural events and activities on offer for all ages and interests… more
ProMo-Cymru works towards building positive change and lasting relationships between individuals, families and communities…more
Send this email to someone you think may be interested
How would you like to see EVI develop?
We welcome your feedback and ideas to help inform the development of this historic, vibrant community & cultural centre.
May we request that you [and any colleagues, clients, friends who are affiliated with EVI] complete this short 3min questionnaire to enable us to seek funding support to help restore our building & develop our facilities.
We’d be most grateful if you could complete this short questionnaire by Thursday 1st March 2018.
2017 was a busy year at the EVi, the community and cultural centre at the heart of Ebbw Vale regenerated and developed by ProMo-Cymru. Chris Phillips, EVi Events Officer, looks back at the past year and the diverse and exciting variety of music and theatrical events.
January is normally notoriously slow in the events business because of the unpredictable weather, especially up here in the mountains of Ebbw Vale. The fact that most customers are bereft of funds after the excesses of the Christmas period doesn’t help either. When we were approached with a guaranteed fee for the whole of January to use the main hall we were more than happy to oblige.
The Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) bandwagon arrived on 2 January. For the next four weeks, they transformed the hall into an impromptu studio.
Guest musicians and all sorts of weird and wonderful instruments arrived on a daily basis, whether it was James Dean Bradfield from the Manic Street Preachers or a glockenspiel. We had to keep the utmost secrecy. Visitors with prying eyes all wanted to know exactly what was going on behind the boarded up doors.
Work finished in early February and we had our hall back. It looked eerily empty after the multitude of electronica and soundproofing had been stripped out. When the album was released in July 2017 it stormed the charts outselling Jay–Z in first few days of release. It finally peaked at number four in the UK Charts. Rather an impressive start to the year with more to come from the PSB boys with two sell-out launch shows… but more of that later.
2017 was definitely a diverse year and with the hall back in our possession, our first show was an interactive theatre piece by Be Aware Productions. The play was funded by the Arts Council of Wales. Written by Turkish playwright Meltem Arikan, directed by Memet Ali Alahora and starring Maddie Jones, Pinar Ogun, Francesca Dimech and Emma Daman Thomas. The show was in the form of a gig. Band members talked about experiences of sexual violence by real people through song and very dark humour. The show was very hard hitting and very thought-provoking and included a lively Q&A session at the end.
A sell out tribute
Along with the spring, March brought our first full house when the Bon Giovi tribute act sold 300 tickets. I’m told there were people so desperate to come that they were offering double the entrance fee to ticket holders on Facebook. The evening was such a hit that the Bon Jovi tribute act was booked again for December. That too sold out months in advance.
Tribute bands may not be to everyone’s taste, and may not be everyone’s idea of art, but they are very popular. With a healthy balance of the real and the ‘fake’ we can continue to offer something for everyone.
Charity events are always welcome here at the EVi. We had a fantastic night when Faith Parry put on an evening of acoustic music to celebrate her struggle with mental health. Her fathers’ band Mattraffia also reunited for the evening to raise money and awareness for Mind, the mental health charity.
The fundraising continued in April with an event to raise funds for the local cinema. The local authority was threatening closure. Bands from all over the area played to a healthy crowd and the cinema was eventually kept open. We don’t know what effect our event had on the decision, but “every little helps”.
UK Subs at the EVi
Not all rock and metal
There may have been some criticism in the past that there was too much rock and heavy metal at the EVi. April dispelled a lot of that. We had a night of hardcore dance with hoards of ravers in hot pants and waving glow sticks. We also had punk legends UK Subs performing a set of rarities and standards to celebrate 40 Years at the forefront of youth rebellion. Yes, youthful rebellion with Charlie Harper… a sprightly 73 years young!
The EVi can be hired for personal parties and events. In May the local vicar held his retirement event here. A personal highlight for me was my own daughters’ wedding. Throw in another sell out, this time from a Guns N’ Roses tribute act. The end of spring saw an eclectic mix of events at the venue proving we provide something for most tastes.
The summer and wedding season really kicked off in June. We had a steampunk union that was an absolute joy and a pagan handfasting ceremony. It’s not all confetti and lace. The halfway point of the year also saw the return of a major musical event. Odin’s Rock Club held their fifth annual two-day festival with acts from all over the country playing.
Public Service Broadcasting returned for two sold-out shows to launch Every Valley, the album lovingly created in the concert hall at the EVi. Ever since the recording of Every Valley PSB Management and myself had been in constant email contact. We talked about the possibility of the band playing some shows as a thank you to the area for being so welcoming to these “middle-class Londoners” who came to write about their industry and struggles.
The album was now ready and the dates were set and announced. The 400 general sale tickets were put online and sold out in less than two minutes. The band gave us 50 half-price tickets to sell for each night. The condition was that buyers had to provide evidence that they lived within 15 miles of the venue. These tickets lasted a little longer, about an hour and a half. People were waiting for the box office to open to get their hands on these “once in a lifetime” golden tickets.
Media interviews with PSB at the EVi
A huge production
Most bands arrive in vans and PSB were no different, except they had four vans and a large truck full of rigging, lights and equipment. It was all hands on deck as myself and our local volunteers set about helping the crew. We put up the magnificent structure that held the giant screens and the myriad of lights. The hall was once again transformed. It was hard to believe that you were still in Ebbw Vale with the sheer size of the production.
The morning of the show saw media arrive from across Wales and even journalists from France. Janice Long arrived from Radio Wales and held an extensive interview with J from the band. The show was to be streamed as a 360degree production. The EVi was a hive of activity and the way everything came together was miraculous. There were a few teething problems. The generator that powered the show was too big to get through the doors. They had to hire a crane as the driver would not leave it on the street. It was lifted over the fence and retrieved after the shows.
Both shows were fantastic and locals and the PSB fan club still rave about it six months later. A really lovely story came out of this too. After the first show, we heard that an eight-year-old in his pyjamas had been sat in the car park listening. The show was for ages 14 plus but the child was a massive fan. I relayed this story to J and the management. They agreed that the boy and his parents could sit on the balcony above the bar with the bands’ guests and watch the show. The child got to meet his heroes and it was a great way to finish the shows off. It seems PSB hadn’t quite finished with us but more of that later.
EVi Events Officer Chris Phillips with James Dean Bradfield
Video shoot with a Manic Street Preacher
July brought another three weddings and a funeral and a return to live action when Swansea rockers Buffalo Summer rocked the hall.
August saw PSB return, this time with the Manic Street Preachers’ James Dean Bradfield. They were here to shoot a video for their collaboration single from the album. They also kindly donated a Ludwig drum kit, Fender Stratocaster guitar and the bands old touring bass amp for young musicians to learn to play. All in all they are a great bunch of people and this was a mutually advantageous union with the album being the bands highest charting. Hopefully, there will be more to come in 2018… watch this space!
After a few tributes, engagements, funerals and children’s parties, musically the autumn saw the return of local heroes Henry’s Funeral Shoe. They brought their down n’ dirty blues driven rock back to the Valleys.
Charity events started again in September with two nights in aid of Musicians Against Homelessness. Both were well attended and worked to raise the profile and funds of this fledgeling charity.
Dan Reed performing at the EVi
Hooked on the EVi
Once acts play the EVi they invariably want to come again, whether it is the audience, staff or well-stocked bar, they usually return. Mike Peters of The Alarm has played twice. Most of the local acts have been numerous times. In October, rock legend Dan Reed made his third visit. It coincided with a 50th birthday for one of the Odin’s Rock Club booking staff. They had a party in a back room and all bought tickets to Dan’s show. So Dan basically played to a birthday party and full gig audience. Long after everyone else had gone home he held court for hours playing his acoustic and regaling with tales of touring with the Stones and other musical royalty.
Paying with batteries
Diversity in music and entrance fee came next when Heavenly Records brought the unique Make Noise event to the EVi. Instead of an admission fee customers had to bring an old electrical item to recycle as ‘payment’ for a gig featuring quirky Cardiff indie troubadour Sweet Baboo. The payment included everything from a handful of batteries to a chainsaw (well hedge trimmer but still vicious looking!).
Orbs show up in photos during a paranormal investigation at the EVi
Spooky goings on
A paranormal investigation by the Ebbw Vale Paranormal Society made me uneasy to be in the venue alone at night for a few weeks. They found a fair bit of activity in the shape of orbs, voices and unexplained noises. I am more than a little sceptical, but it did make me think twice about certain things that go bump in the night in this very old building
Motown and Indie
I mentioned before that bands like to return to the venue and in November Big Mac’s Wholly Soul Band paid us their fifth visit to celebrate their 25thAnniversary. A sell out crowd danced the night away to the glorious hits of Motown. After the success of the PSB events, it seemed we were in demand by touring bands and SWN in Cardiff asked us if we could accommodate We Are Scientists for a late-announced gig as part of a whistle-stop tour of only three UK gigs. We gladly agreed and had a fantastic evening with the New York Indie Stars.
The Church at the Brain Freeze Festival
The saying goes you can never have too much of a good thing and that was evident when Charlie Harper brought the UK Subs back for another visit in late November. This was just a warm-up for the third annual staging of Pity My Brain’s Brain Freeze Festival. This event always delivers the best in local, national and international rock music with previous acts including Atomic Bitchwax and Crobot.
On the menu this year was the lauded Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind, Church of the Cosmic Skull, Virginmarys and an outstanding array of local talent. Add in a record fair and local ales from the Tudor brewery plus acoustic acts such as Brandy Row and Aled Clifford and you get the best value two-day festival money can buy.
The Church had the most people in a band on stage (apart from Gruff Rhys’ nine-piece band a few years back) and what a sight they were all bedecked in white (as well as a fair portion of the audience avec blanc). It was like a cult sermon but what a heavenly racket they made.
The festive season arrived and we had a tremendous party night with our own Dean Richards providing the cabaret, a free party for local children complete with buffet and magician, and another sell-out show from those Bon Giovi guys.
In conclusion, what a year it has been, from international touring megastars, local bands at the start of their journeys, raves, thought-provoking plays, mediums, debates and all manner of family functions – hatches, matches and dispatches! Add in a top five album recorded at the EVi and you have a pretty diverse and satisfying year. Who knows what 2018 will bring but it sure has a lot to live up too!
The weekend of November 24th and 25th sees some Giants of the Underground arriving at the EVi as part of Pity My Brain’s Brainfreeze festival. To celebrate festival big wig Jamie Richards went on Radio 6 with Radcliffe and Maconie to chat about this unique event. Follow the link and click 2.13 in to hear about this diverse weekend, including Real Ales, Record Fair and acts of the calibre of Jim Jones and The Righteous Mind, VirginMarys and Church of the Cosmic Skull
We have gone Christmas Crackers here at Your Evi with events and parties to suit all ages and budgets.
First up from November 25th and continuing every Saturday right up to December the 23rd you can have Breakfast with Santa in the 1849 Café. Your little darlings can come and have Breakfast with the Big Man himself and a little elf has told me there might be some early presents
Then on Friday 15th December we have a fun-filled evening, Ideal for small works parties or an informal get together. For £15 per head we offer a Hot Buffet, Live Artist , the magnificent Dean Richards all topped off with a party themed Disco from our resident DJ, factor in the most Diverse selection of Beers and Spirits in The Valleys and a fine time should be in store for all.
On Saturday 23rd of December we invite you to CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS IN EBBW VALE,.
Whoever said there is no such thing as a free lunch obviously hasn’t been talking to Santa because on this day we are offering a festive feast , sweets and fun packed Christmas entertainment. for all the family.
The Event is supported by Big Lottery Fund and is free to all the family but tickets are limited must be picked up from the EVi in advance
Hot on the Heels of the Public Service Broadcastings shows, more Indie Heavyweights came to the EVi to perform an intimate show. It was a tremendous evening but do not just take our word for it, this is what the South Wales Argus had to say.
IT’S not often you see a big name band come to a small venue, but We Are Scientists brought in a huge crowd on their visit to Gwent on Wednesday night.
The indie rock band – who are well-known for their hit song Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt from their 2005 album Love & Squalor – brought a mixture of music from five of their top albums to the Ebbw Vale Institute.
Lead singer and guitarist Keith Murray and backing singer and bassist Chris Cain not only got the crowd jumping but managed to squeeze in some comedy in between sets with some off the cuff humour.
The band – who hail from New York City – managed to fit in quite well into the valleys and brought in some jokes about the terrible transport.
And along with the free comedy show, Keith Murray made the crowd go wild after jumping off the stage and dancing round the room while singing 2005 tune Textbook.
The whole band performed with an amazing energy that got everyone excited and entranced into the music.
We Are Scientists make you feel like you are an actual member of the band with their relaxed show style and comical references.
Their tour is one not to be missed – and lets face it – any band that isn’t from Wales that can properly pronounce Welsh town names is always a winner.” Alice Rose