A dedicated rehearsal studios is to open in Blackwood courtesy of Velvet Coalmine.

The arts festival, which returns for a second year from September 1 to 6, has announced that Velvet Coalmine Studios will launch in the town thanks to funding from UK Music and the Joe Strummer Foundation.

UK Music, the trade governing body for the music industry, and the Joe Strummer Foundation – set up in memory of the frontman of The Clash, have thrown their weight behind the project – a community-led resource to encourage local youngsters to get involved with music.

The location and date of opening is yet to be announced, but festival organiser, Blackwood-born Iain Richards, was understandably thrilled at the news.

“We had various meeting throughout the summer and UK Music were very interested in the concept of Velvet Coalmine and what we were trying to achieve,” he said.

“They were very taken by the fact it was a local boy trying to do something in his hometown – and critically they hadn’t opened any rehearsal spaces in Wales.

“The Joe Strummer Foundation was set up by Joe’s widow Lucinda after Joe’s death in
2002. The aim of the foundation is to increase social mobility through music. I got in touch with them and had a couple of meetings.“They thought that Velvet Coalmine, particularly given the Manic Street Preachers who are all big Clash fans come from the town, and with Joe’s links to South Wales, having lived in Newport and having various Gwent connections, that Blackwood was the ideal place for them to set up their first project.”

When Velvet Colamine Studios opens, it will be staffed by a full-time manager alongside a couple of part-time staff.

Read more from Dave Owens over on WalesOnline