Riverfront Arts Centre

The Riverfront (Welsh: Glan yr Afon) is the principal and newest theatre and arts centre in the City of Newport, South Wales. It is located on the west bank of the River Usk on the Bristol Packet Wharf in the city centre. Designed by architect Austin-Smith:Lord, the centre was opened on 23 October 2004.


The venue has a 493-capacity theatre and presents a mix of comedy, opera, dance, music and drama. The Studio, seating 128, with a more challenging performance and film programme. The three workshop spaces host a range of art classes and workshops including ceramics and life drawing. The Dance Studio hosts a variety of dance and theatre classes and workshops including salsa, breakdancing, circus skills and youth theatre. The Recording Studio is hired externally and used for rock & pop and dj-ing workshops.

Every year since opening, The Riverfront has also had successful Christmas and New Year periods hosting traditional pantomimes with well-known faces within the cast, including Brian Hibbard, Gillian Elisa and Ieuan Rhys. Britain's Got Talent semi-finalist Mark James performed throughout the Christmas period as Jack Trott in Jack and the Beanstalk 2007 and will be making a comeback in Aladdin 2010.

Art Gallery

The small art gallery plays host to a collection of local artists and other free exhibitions including photography, painting and sculpture.

The Basement Gallery is now being used for exhibitions and in 2008 hosted the extremely successful Ghosts in Armour exhibition.

Food & drink

The Riverfront has a café and bar overlooking the river on the ground floor of the building. There is also an outdoor terrace that spills onto the banks of the River Usk.

The building has twice been awarded the title of most popular new building in Wales by the Local Government Authority.

The Newport Ship

The centre is scheduled to be the home to the now-famous Newport ship, a 15th century vessel found immersed in the mud banks of the River Usk, although it has been suggested that the basement space may be too small to view the ship in its entirety.

The remains of a fifteenth century ship were discovered whilst excavating for the orchestra pit for the Theatre. Around 25 metres long and dating from 1465 the find's importance has been equated to that of the Mary Rose. During its six month excavation, a vast new exhibition space was designed and built in self-compacting water-proof concrete beneath the foyer, to house and display the discoveries, presenting the ship’s unearthing, its history and eventually the fully conserved ship itself. The design could not compromise the existing facilities, however needed to be an integral part of the building as a whole, and had to be constructed around the piles already in the ground.