Welsh Government commits to culture funding for anti-racism

28 Nov 2022

Cultural and heritage activities in Wales are to receive a share of a £4.5m pot supporting the delivery of the Welsh Government’s Anti-Racist Wales Action Plan.

More than £2.8m is being shared over three years between 22 local, regional, national or independently-run culture, heritage and sport organisations across Wales.

Funded organisations include the Association of Independent Museums, Butetown Arts and Culture Association and Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru.

The Welsh Government says funded projects “focus on co-production, demonstrating a commitment to placing lived experience at the centre of policy, service development and delivery”.

A further £1.67m is being designated to the Welsh Government’s cultural and sport arm’s length bodies, including National Museum Wales and the National Library of Wales, to “build on existing and new programmes of activity, accelerating their work on anti-racism at a national level”.

Arts Council Wales will also receive a share of funding to put towards the appointment of more Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic creative practitioners.

“Our national and local museums, galleries, libraries theatres, and sporting venues need to be inclusive of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people and place,” Wales Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport Dawn Bowden said.

“Our culture, heritage and sports services must be culturally competent and reflective of the history and contribution made by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people to Welsh society.”

Welsh arts initiative improves patient and staff health 

07 Nov 2022

An arts and health initiative developed in Wales has helped improve the health and well-being of NHS patients, staff and the wider population, a new study has found.

As part of the Arts and Health Coordinator Capacity Building Programme,  established by Arts Council of Wales in 2018, arts and health coordinator roles have been introduced in all seven health boards in Wales.

An interim evaluation of the work found the roles have had a positive impact on the physical and mental health of patients and the wider population at various stages of their care - from prevention of illness through to treatment and recovery – as well as staff well-being.

The report found the programme has helped build credibility for arts and health work across the health and care system, leading to the delivery of good quality arts and health activity, helping develop arts and health strategies in some health boards, and supporting health board priorities.

Nesta Lloyd–Jones, Assistant Director at Welsh NHS Confederation, said: “The evaluation report evidences the critical role the arts and health coordinators play in supporting the health and wellbeing of the people in Wales.

“Wales is leading the way in embedding the arts across the health service, with a growing understanding of the impact the arts can have in improving health outcomes, countering inequalities and increasing social engagement."

Museums 'scaling down activity' to survive

A steam engine at Leeds Industrial Museum
13 Oct 2022

Survey of museums highlights concerns about fixed-term energy contracts ending and the inability of organisations to absorb high energy costs if they persist for the long term.

Arts Council Wales warns of theatre closures

10 Oct 2022

Theatres could face closure if they do not receive support to help with the cost-of-living crisis, the Arts Council of Wales (ACW) has warned.

Giving evidence to a Welsh Government inquiry on the impact of rising costs, ACW interim chief executive Michael Elliott said more than 50% of arts venues that replied to a recent survey claimed they would be reducing their activities due to increasing costs.

Elliott said theatres would have to start looking at "safe, more well-known programming" of shows rather than more "creative and riskier programming" to make sure money is recouped, while touring productions would be seeking guarantees or fixed fees from theatres and venues.

In accompanying written evidence ACW said there has been a 20% to 40% increase in the costs of making productions since last year.

The submission also highlighted that independent arts companies and venues would 'face closure without increased support'.

It warned that ticket prices could be raised in response, with a reduction to the number of 'performances, exhibitions, community activity, touring, hours of operation and workforce levels' if support is not secured.

New arts resource for Welsh health workers

04 Oct 2022

Wales’ arts community has made an online resource to support NHS and care home staff this winter.

Cultural Cwtsh features short, accessible videos from 50 professional artists across Wales showcasing a range of cultural activities including poetry, juggling, beatboxing, dancing and photography.

The website was created by Arts Council of Wales (ACW) with funding support from the Welsh Government as part of an ongoing programme of partnership works highlighting the proven well-being benefits of the arts.

ACW Programme Manager for Arts, Health and Wellbeing Sally Lewis said she hopes people working in healthcare will enjoy discovering their own creativity through the resource.

“The Cultural Cwtsh is a direct response to the significant challenges and pressures healthcare staff continue to face. 

“[It] aims to use creativity to boost staff wellbeing by providing comfort, fun, distraction, solace, relaxation, stimulation, an outlet for expression as well as opportunities for people to learn a new skill.”

Wales commits to creative skills plan

videographer
21 Sep 2022

The plan will facilitate creative career paths in the screen, digital content and music industries and is being launched alongside a £1m investment fund.

Health & wellbeing fund for Welsh arts organisations reopens

13 Sep 2022

Arts organisations in Wales working on projects that deliver health and wellbeing benefits are invited to apply for grants of between £500 and £50,000.

The Arts Council of Wales’ Arts, Health and Wellbeing National Lottery funding programme supports high-quality creative projects focused on mental health, health inequalities, physical health and wellbeing and staff wellbeing.

The latest round of funding is open to partnership applications from arts organisations working with health organisations to deliver joint projects. 

Applications should represent a consortium of organisations and artists, one of which will act as the primary applicant and accountable body, the organisation has said.

The deadline to apply is 5 October.
 

King Charles III and the arts

Charles III with crowd of people in the background
13 Sep 2022

A noted fan of art, theatre and opera, Charles III also has a track record of using the arts to transform lives.

Fund for Welsh music organisations reopens

13 Sep 2022

Music organisations working with young people in Wales have been invited to apply for grants in the second round of a fund run Anthem - Music Fund Wales.

The Atsain fund aims to support youth music organisations to address and overcome specific barriers to music for young people in Wales. Eligible organisations can apply for grants of up to £10,000.

The first round of funding awarded a total of £120,000 to 15 organisations last year and created a collaborative network of beneficiaries to facilitate forums for sharing best practice.

“We’re already seeing young people connecting with music in new ways as a result of projects funded by the first round of Atsain,” said Rhian Hutchings, Chief Executive of Anthem.

“Our grantees are working with young people of all ages, helping them to build their confidence, explore their creativity and find pathways to potential future careers.”

Atsain’s Programme Manager Rebecca Rickard said the organisation welcomes “partnerships between organisations that focus on music, but also youth, community, disability, language, poverty, race and more”.

“It is through partnerships that organisations get a better understanding of the barriers young people face, and how to break them down,” she said.

Arts Council Wales seeks views on future of arts

08 Sep 2022

Arts Council Wales is calling on audiences and people involved with arts and culture to help it shape the future of the arts in the country.

The organisation says it wants to start conversations on issues such as the climate emergency, a bilingual arts sector, equality and diversity, and transformation of the arts in the face of increasing global challenges.

It will be holding a free online festival over three days later this month to gather views. 

The festival, named Imagining our Future: Conversations on the Arts in Wales, will run from September 20 to 22.

Online registration is now open and participants can select the events they want to attend.
 

Next Prime Minister urged to reform ACE

The door of Number 10 Downing Street
22 Aug 2022

Equity calls on Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to reform the system of arts councils across the UK and adopt regional structures, whichever of them becomes Prime Minister.

Recovery funds key to arts survival in Scotland and Wales

an artist working in her studio
17 Aug 2022

Reports suggest devolved governments’ funding was key to sector recovery and resilience but warn the pandemic exposed the need for further financial support.

Arts Council Wales seeks diverse creatives

16 Aug 2022

The Arts Council of Wales has announced the continuation of Cynefin: culturally and ethnically diverse Wales, a programme organised in partnership with the Welsh government.

The programme will expand to support a wider network of schools across Wales in devising and delivering creative collaborative projects.

Projects supported by the programme focus on areas including exploring identity in relation to growing up in Wales and understanding the history and development of the country as a culturally diverse society.

Other areas of focus include gaining awareness of the people, cultures and communities that make up contemporary Wales and exploring the past and present experiences and contributions of culturally and ethnic diverse people to the country.

The programme facilitates working directly with teachers to enhance the quality of teaching and learning. 

Arts Council Wales has put out a call for creative professionals from culturally and ethnically diverse backgrounds who want to work on the creative learning offer for schools within the network in either English or Welsh.

Professionals working in the arts, culture, heritage or creative industries are invited to apply until September 2 for an opportunity to develop their practices through the delivery of collaborative, creative projects in schools.

Creative wellbeing programme for new parents launches

15 Aug 2022

A new creative wellbeing programme to support new parents will launch in Flintshire next month.

The Creative Minds initiative has been designed by Caffi Isa, a cafe in the village of Mynydd Isa, in partnership with the local mental health charity North East Wales Mind and with funding from Arts Council of Wales.

The programme is aimed at parents experiencing or feeling vulnerable to mental health problems, such as post-natal depression, feelings of isolation or loss of identity.

There will be workshops on arts, crafts and creative writing, as well as access to mental health support and the opportunity to socialise with other new parents.

Jess Doyle, a local writer and project manager at Caffi Isa, said: "Creativity can be a lifeline for those experiencing difficulties. Having suffered from postnatal depression myself, and having found my own writing very therapeutic, I was keen to offer this opportunity to new parents who might be going through similar issues."

Government urged to establish national music education service

pupils take part in school music lesson
08 Aug 2022

Political thinktank says England needs a national music service akin to Wales' to ensure every pupil has access to high-quality music education.

Extended reality arts venue to open in Wales

03 Aug 2022

Wales Millennium Centre has released details of its purpose-built extended reality arts venue, which is scheduled to open on 27 August.

Bocs, which is Welsh for box, is the first space of its kind in a Welsh arts centre. It will present a programme of 360° films and projections as well as extended reality (XR) experiences, including augmented reality, mixed reality and virtual reality.

Alongside an event programme, a series of talks and workshops will be hosted in a new XR studio, providing opportunities for artists, educators and young creators to gain hands-on experience and explore ways to make an impact through immersive media.

David Massey, Senior Producer (Digital Experiences) at Wales Millennium Centre, said Bocs will “showcase and celebrate the best of immersive storytelling in Wales and across the world, intersecting technology, visual art, theatre and music”.

“Immersive experiences are a great way to bring audiences together, challenge ideas and transport you to new worlds.”

“We hope Bocs will inspire new audiences and intrigue the next generation of story makers, introducing more people to the immense possibilities of this exciting medium.”

Arts Council of Wales begins review into funding process

20 Jul 2022

Arts Council of Wales (ACW) has opened a consultation into the way it allocates its funding to arts organisations.

Known as The Investment Review, ACW has traditionally reviewed its funding process every five years. This review was originally scheduled for 2020 but was postponed by the pandemic.

The funder is proposing a simplified application process and a move away from funding a portfolio of companies towards a mix of multi-year revenue and project funding agreements. It is also suggesting three-year funding arrangements, rather than the existing five years, with the option of an additional three years based on performance.

The new funding model would sit alongside ACW’s other programmes that are funded by The National Lottery.

ACW says it is “seeking as many views on the new proposals as possible”. Eight online consultations will be take place on Zoom through August and September, with booking available on the funder’s website. An online survey is already open and email responses are welcomed.

The consultation period runs until 10 October, with final details of the new process expected to be released on 21 November. 

Funding applications will then open in January 2023, with decisions delivered in September 2023 ahead of the release of funds beginning in April 2024.

Inclusivity drive for independent music venues launches

People at a music venue
19 Jul 2022

Independent music venues will be encouraged to form a national network offering daytime programmes of music-based activities to engage with diverse audiences.

Wrexham to bid again for UK City of Culture 

14 Jul 2022

Wrexham will make another bid for the title of City of Culture in 2029 after recently losing out to Bradford for the 2025 title.

Members of Wrexham Council's executive board approved launching another attempt to win the title at a meeting this week. They also supported a number of other recommendations including inviting the National Eisteddfod to Wrexham in 2025.

Hugh Jones, the arts portfolio holder, said he was confident about the council’s chances of success in 2029.

He said: “If you look at the facts with Bradford and the size of their team, they had eight full time staff and a PR agency that had been working on the project for two and a half years.

“In just over six months, we came so close to winning this and that gives an indication of the achievement that we had in Wrexham.

“Clearly, we want to bid for 2029 and why wouldn’t we because 2025 is probably worth somewhere in the region of £300m."

National Open Youth Orchestra to launch in Cardiff

12 Jul 2022

The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the National Open Youth Orchestra (NOYO) have announced the launch of the Cardiff NOYO Centre, a pioneering inclusive ensemble to allow talented young disabled and non-disabled musicians to rehearse and perform together.

The partnership offers the first progression route for talented young disabled musicians in the region. It aims to reduce musical exclusion and develop skills while increasing sector support.

NOYO is the world's first disabled-led national youth ensemble open to both young disabled and non-disabled musicians. The project aims to lay the foundations for a more diverse orchestral sector.

“Musical talent and potential are everywhere, but opportunities for young disabled people to progress in music are not,” said Barry Farrimond-Chuong MBE, CEO of Open Up Music, the charity behind NOYO. 

“We are extremely excited to be working with Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and BBC National Orchestra of Wales to expand the National Open Youth Orchestra and open up music to more young disabled musicians.”

Instruments played by NOYO musicians include the LinnStrument, Seaboard RISE and Clarion, an accessible instrument that can be played with any movement of the body, including the eyes. 

The centre will begin taking applications for auditions from disabled and non-disabled musicians aged 11 to 25 in March next year, with rehearsals due to begin in September 2023. Participation will be free and will include monthly rehearsals and one-to-one tuition.

“There aren’t other youth orchestras who are as passionate about showing disabled people can play on the same stages as non-disabled people,” said NOYO harpist Holli Pandit.

“Lots of the music we play, you wouldn't really get that in a stereotypical classical music concert – you wouldn’t have the instruments! We believe that it's best if disabled and non-disabled musicians can integrate together, and then we can come up with fresh new ideas and be more creative.” 
 

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