Buildings rarely take as many guises as Chapter Arts Centre, but Cardiff got pretty lucky when it opened its doors. The diverse arts venue never fails to enable creativity, inspire, excite and entertain.
It first opened in 1971, breathing life into a disused Edwardian high school building. Over the five decades that have passed since, it has grown enormously in reputation and popularity, now welcoming around 800,000 visitors each year.
So, what gets everyone so excited about Chapter? Here are some of its main draws.
Tucked at the back of the café bar, the gallery plays host to free art exhibitions. By actively commissioning, producing and presenting contemporary visual and live art projects, Chapter ensure there's always an ambitious and varied programme of works to see by artists near and far. Well-known artists who've had work shown there include Rose Wiley, Gary Hume, Ai Weiwei and Antony Gormley. Along with the gallery, the 'Art in the Bar' space (the back wall of the café) and the lightbox at the front of Chapter are also used to exhibit works.
There are two cinemas at Chapter: one large screen with room for big audiences and film-related events and one cosier screen for smaller audiences (it has light-up stars in the ceiling for extra charm). While the listings don't ignore blockbusters, Chapter is better known for its provision of niche, arthouse and independent films, small scale film festivals and cinematic events.
Linking up all of the wings in the Chapter building is the all-day café bar. It is flooded with natural light (topped up with environmentally-friendly lighting), making it a lovely spot to eat and drink with friends, make new pals, do some work on your laptop, hold casual meetings or relax before or after an event at Chapter. The seasonal menu offers something for everyone, from simple staples to hearty dishes. Coffee comes from the wonderful Hard Lines roasters (located just down the road from Chapter). It pairs perfectly with a cake or cookie from the sweet treats cabinet.
The performance spaces
There are two theatre spaces at Chapter. The main space is the Seligman Theatre, which holds around 120 people. Over the front courtyard in a separate building, there's the second, slightly smaller theatre space: Stiwdio Seligman. Both theatres are used for public and private live performances including drama, comedy, music and movement.
As a community space, Chapter runs a wide programme of workshops, schemes, special events and regular classes. The typical weekly timetable includes things like martial arts classes, tap dancing lessons, choir sessions and actors workshops. It changes regularly, so keep an eye out for new additions and one-off events like the Art Car Bootique (a very cool car boot sale) and themed micro-festivals. There's also a community garden outside the front of the building, which is tended to by local schools, groups and volunteers.