Category Archives: Art

Review Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom by Jonathan Evans

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom works by being a true blockbuster and tapping into what makes them great watches. Simple and engaging characters that move from one set-piece to the next. Along the way we see wild images and feel a gamut of emotions and leave feeling satisfied.

(5 / 5)

I enjoyed the first Jurassic World movie enough but found there were many pointless elements, plot points that didn’t make any sense and some wasted potential. It did, however, make a lot of money so a sequel was inevitable. But they announced that J.A. Boyegar was taking over the reins as director. From his Gothic horror movie of The Orphanage to Disaster movie The Impossible and the best movie of last year with A Monster Calls he has quickly built-up a reputation as one of the top filmmaking talents. His movies cut deep into human emotions, whether they be fear, endurance or dealing with reality they are emotionally driven. He adapts himself to using some similar shots that we know from this established franchise (one particularly iconic helicopter shot) and more chatty and joky characters and has made something him and is part of a franchise.

Now for the synopsis. Jurassic Park was meant to be a park where they brought Dinosaurs back from extinction and the people could experience them. This was obviously a bad idea but lent itself to a great scenario so they did it anyway. It went badly. The Dinosaurs got free and now run the island, that is the current situation, but the volcano at the center of the island is about to erupt which will wipe out all the Dinosaurs. Some say they should be saved because they are living creatures others say they can never be controlled and are man-made so be left to their fate. A special group is financing a rescue of two of each species and they recruit Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) from the last movie to assist, she then brings in Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) also from the last movie because of his expertise and connection with Blue the Raptor.

From here on the movie strings together set-piece to set-piece and thematic elements into a whole. It isn’t at the non-relenting passe of Mad Max: Fury Road but it is brink and with a bountiful serving of variations. There are suspenseful moments of having to sneak around, chases, and confined situations of claustrophobia.

There seems to be a resurgence, since the release of The Force Awakens, of using practical effects and prosthetics again and I am so happy to see it. C.G.I. is a wonderful tool but it is not the answer to all, practical effects give weight and believability to the creatures. C.G.I. ages very quickly and a real, well textured and painted model or puppet won’t. As well as that it gives the actors something to genuinely act with.

There is an understanding that Dinosaurs are the biggest predators that ever walked the Earth and to be around one that eats meat, is one of the most dangerous things you can do. It is quickly established with the dread the characters talk about them, the fear that flashes on their faces and a few selective devourings of characters. Even the herbivores are so large that if you get in their way, you will be flattened.

When development of a movie begins there is what is called “Concept Art” these are pieces of art that seeks to give a feel for the tone and mood of the movie and give the filmmakers something to work towards visually. They are usually expressive and quite beautiful. Through the movie, you can see moments in which were clearly taken from a piece of illustrated art and are some truly beautiful and haunting moments of cinema.

Thematically the movie is focused on the original movies concept as well as going further to Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein (she even gets a cameo in the movie in the form of a painting) and that is the responsibility of creation.

This movie is a reminder of what a great experience you can have sitting in the seat of a theater and seeing the images on the big screen and hearing the loud sounds all around you. It respects the original material and boldly pushes it forward and will have you in awe and tremble in fear of Dinosaurs.

Jonathan Evans

An interview with Aisha Kigwalilo

The director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently met with Aisha Kigwalilo. They discussed her background, a new arts project called G.I.R.L. Xhibtion and her thoughts on the arts in Wales.

Hi Aisha great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

Hi, I’m 19 years old and I live in Cardiff, yet I am of African descent. Currently I’m an undergraduate student finishing 1st year study of International Relations and Politics however I have not always been in this field. Throughout high school, college and now I’m involved in music as a vocalist and songwriter.

So what got you interested in creative expression, the arts and social activism?

Creative expression has been something I have always embodied, in my music, dance and musical theatre phase. However, my interests in social activism and supporting human rights and social justice has always been brewing; it was being placed in an environment such as politics that reminded me how important those issues truly are. Considering the fact, leader fellowship programme, TuWezeshe Akina Dada gave me this opportunity I believe that, even though I’m not an artist myself, art is the best language to translate feelings that leave words speechless.

Thanks Aisha,  can you tell us more about TuWezeshe Akina Dada and  G.I.R.L. Xhibition?

TuWezeshe Akina Dada is a leadership programme built to encourage, mentor, and inspire young women to live to their full potential. Operating since July 2016, TuWezeshe selects young women from England, Wales and Scotland, training us how organise our own projects of activism in both the British and African diaspora.

The projects we decide to create surround the lessons taught in our training, gender-based violence, identity, and empowerment. G.I.R.L. Xhibition lies in empowerment, because it focuses on how society only gives platforms to certain narratives. With the limitations communities face when it comes to representation, numerous narratives can shape an individual yet many of those narratives hardly explored. G.I.R.L. Xhibition aims to present the narratives of the ordinary, through the expression of art. Making the unconventional, the new conventional.

Therefore, with donations from Comic Relief TuWezeshe’s founder FORWARD UK has partnered with Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel Wales thus each fellowship is granted £500 for their project. However, for personal reasons and I believe many could relate to I have registered G.I.R.L. Xhibition to be a fundraiser for Velindre Cancer Centre. It is something that hits home for me and I know it is a narrative many individuals can relate to, thus all profits e.g. ticket sales, drinks will be donated there!

 

One of the Get the Chance team, Amina Elmi is involved in the exhibition in Cardiff, how did local females get involved in the project and how did you select the work to be exhibited?

Well I selected Amina Elmi to model for G.I.R.L.’s promotion campaign. In the actual exhibition, nine artists from across the UK (Cardiff, Newport, Bath, Bristol, Swindon and Portsmouth). I wanted to select ordinary girls like Amina because I wanted to help expand the platform of the representation of black women, to ordinary girls and those of African and Caribbean descent. Amina’s poster is one of four other posters, each one designed differently and highlighting their character/personality. They aim of my campaign was to highlight the cultural and personal dimensions. I selected each girl based on their individuality and the differences that them similar to me, others, and perhaps yourself!

We asked Amina to give a personal response to her involvement in this new intiative.

How did you come to be involved with this project?

Aisha and I were friends in college. We recently caught up with each other and Aisha told me that she was planning an exhibition. I was really impressed as she was so passionate and excited when explaining the project to me. Later, she then asked me if I wouldn’t mind being in some photos for the promotion of the event.

Can you tell us more about your work featured in this project?

Myself and 3 other amazing young ladies were asked to do a photo shoot. This was for the promotion online and leaflets that Aisha was going to make. In the photo shoot, Aisha made sure we were all comfortable and reminded us that she wanted us to be ourselves. This allowed the photos of us girls to represent a different types of black women.

You have spoken in the past about the lack of representation of Muslim females in the mainstream media. Do you think projects like this go some way to improving the situation?

Definitely. This exhibition is about black women. A group I feel is restricted by stereotypes and ignored by the mainstream media. By showcasing different types of black women this exhibit is defying those assumptions. In my case, Aisha wanted to highlight that the experiences of black hijabi women are also valid.

Thanks Amina.

Aisha, Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision. Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales based creatives?

I’m aware of the barriers to equality and diversity in Wales to a great extent, presently I’m noticing a growth in Welsh based creatives showing more presence, especially in Cardiff’s art festivals. When I was searching for the artists I made sure to provide Wales based creatives (Newport and Cardiff) the opportunity to showcase in an art exhibition I believe, has not been displayed in Wales. And I hope after this exhibition, more Wales based creatives will be inspired to develop exhibitions like G.I.R.L.

There are a range of organisations supporting Welsh and Wales based creatives, I wonder if you feel the current support network and career opportunities feel ‘healthy’ to you? Can more be done?

Well, I am receiving a great deal of  support from the National Museum of Wales, which is exciting! But except for that the current support network I am receiving at this moment is from individuals, specifically artists in their own right within the Welsh university community and friends; I believe that is more than ‘healthy’. Yet more can be done, because when looking at the works of all nine artists I realised that in exchange for them volunteering their artworks to such a great cause, the least I can do is provide them the exposure and attract creatives and galleries within the Cardiff area.

If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why?

This is a hard question but honestly, I would direct my funds to art departments in Welsh schools and universities. There is scene there that deserves to be noticed, I believe that many artists get discouraged to continue as it is considered an ‘unrealistic’ career choice especially in African and Asian communities. If art students are given more platforms to showcase and interact with other Wales based creatives/artists that will be worth something!

What excites you about the arts in Wales? What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?

What excites me about the art in Wales is the subtle growth of creative expansion. I appreciate the Celtic and culturally Welsh inspired to the postmodernist statement exhibitions taking place in Wales! I just hope G.I.R.L. Xhibition can contribute to this growth of expansion and open up another avenue the Welsh creative community can explore.

Thanks for your time, Aisha

Thank you for having me!

 

Review: ‘People – Picture – Power – Perception’ by Gareth Ford-Elliott

(3 / 5)

 

With ‘People – Picture – Power – Perception’ (PPPP), Avant Cymru set out to explore what Welsh Hip-Hop theatre is and to showcase the hip-hop talents of Wales at the Chapter Arts Centre as part of the 2018 Cardiff Fringe Theatre Festival.

As the title suggests, the piece portrays people, gives them the platform to show their picture, which gives them the power to change the perception surrounding hip-hop. In the mainstream, hip-hop is portrayed as specifically rap with themes of drugs and gangs. A major worry when attending this performance was that it would be too much like this. I have had experiences with Welsh hip-hop before and it has been limited to that field.

However, Avant Cymru do not fall into this trap. If you’re not aware, allow me to give a very brief history and explanation of hip-hop culture. Hip-hop culture consists of four main art forms known as the four pillars of hip-hop; emceeing/MCing (rapping/singing/spoken word), DJing (beat production, beat-freestyling, beat-boxing), breaking/break-dancing and graffiti art. It started in New York and has grown into the one of the biggest art movements in the world.

Jonzi D, a pioneer of hip-hop theatre, was told at his dance school, “Hip-Hop is not valuable for the theatre,” before going on to define what British hip-hop theatre is, with the help of people like Akala who created the Hip-Hop Shakespeare company. And now, we have Avant Cymru attempting to do the same in Wales, with specifically Welsh artists, Welsh voices and Welsh themes.

Starting with the DJing, mostly produced by Jamey P, the beats used for ‘PPPP’ are exceptional. The production is one of the outstanding elements of the show. The production always fits, sounds incredible and even when left to stand alone is enjoyable.

Beatbox Hann performs his championship-winning beatboxing skills very well. His accolades and CV speak for themselves, but here he showcases real talent. Understanding when to blend into the background and when to come to the forefront.

The stand-out section of the show is a piece between Hann and breaker, Bboy Flexton (James Berry). It starts with Flexton sat at a table, whilst Hann starts creating a beat with his vocal chords. He mixes this together on what appears to be an MPC of sorts, so each sound loops and eventually builds into a beat. Eventually, Hann turns the beat off and starts beatboxing on his own.

Whilst this happens, Flexton starts to break into a dance. At first it isn’t exactly clear what is going on but as the dance progresses we see Flexton appear to hold a gun to his head before wrestling it away. This collaboration of beatboxing and breaking works very well and appears to portray a kind of suppression of violent outburst and possibly suicidal thoughts. It certainly would be interesting to see a slightly extended version of this.

Moving onto the breaking, and Flexton pops up again, portraying an aggressive nature. However, Flexton is the only breaker that seems to portray a specific type of character. This is not a fault of the breakers themselves, at different times they all proved themselves to be talented dancers. It is more a fault in the choreography and direction of the show. The expression could have been more clear at times. It will certainly be interesting to see the difference between this show and Avant Cymru’s upcoming ‘Blue Scar’, another hip-hop theatre show with more of a set story.

The emceeing is of a very good standard. Occasionally repetitive, but very good at getting the point across. Rufus Mafasa, Maple Struggle and Jamey P all perform well. The themes do jump around a little bit, but the lyrical content, delivery and flow are all strong. The highlight is Maple Struggle’s song, Quit Mooching, which starts with Maple Struggle getting left with the bill after a date before breaking out into a song about his perception of how some women will use men as well as general materialism.

The graffiti used in the performance is minimal. The piece as a whole could really capitalise on the art form better. There is a stylistic writing of the piece’s title on a screen off to the right of the stage and on a screen at the back of the stage, at times are pictures and moving pictures of graffiti. However, even sitting at the front it was hard to make out exactly what the graffiti was and certainly wasn’t used as well as it can be. The simple set worked well, but could do with more graffiti.

The main theme of the show is gender which is explored thoroughly. Toxic masculinity is portrayed particularly well by Bboy Flexton with the aggression as well as suicidal thoughts. An issue very specific to toxic masculinity and very important in the South Wales region. Rufus Mufasa also had powerful moments of feminist lyricism and generally portrayed herself as a powerful woman. Some of the breaking could be more clearly focused on this theme.

As far as is it worth seeing? Yes, it is worth seeing. It’s not the most rehearsed piece of hip-hop theatre or the most concise. But in terms of exploring what Welsh hip-hop theatre is, it is pioneering. If you’re a fan of or are involved in hip-hop then definitely see this if Avant Cymru ever bring it back. If you’re not into hip-hop, then I recommend seeing this for a positive introduction to hip-hop.

After the show there was a bit of a freestyle from those involved and some from the audience and the feel of community this gave off was beautiful. As a hip-hop fan, it was great to see the true power of hip-hop community shine bright.

As this was a once-performed show with no known future dates, go and check out Blue Scar by Avant Cymru at the Park & Dare Theatre in Treorchy on July 12th and 13th and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Much of the same cast will be involved and the preview they gave at the end was very good.

Info:
People – Picture – Power – Perception’
Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
31st May 2018
By Avant Cymru
Directed and Choreographed by: Rachel Pedley, Tommy Boost and Jamie Berry.
Music From: Maple Struggle, Rufus Mufasa and Jamey P.
Set Designed by: Unity (Amelia Thomas).
Breakers/Dancers: Rachel Pedley, Bboy Flexton, Tommy Boost and special guests (uncredited).

Review by: Gareth Ford-Elliott

Review: Everything Changes, AJ’s Coffee House by Luke Seidel-Haas

Image result for everything changes weeping tudor

★★☆☆☆

 

Billed as a fusion of storytelling between Celtic and Zimbabwean cultures, Everything Changes is a collaboration between professional storyteller Bevin Magama and founder of Weeping Tudor productions James Ellis. Taking place in the cosy setting of AJ’s Coffee House on City Road, this show is part of the “Fringe Labs” strand of this years Cardiff Fringe Theatre Festival – that means that it is ” either totally new, or [a] work-in-progress. This will be a platform from which they can make their first leap into the public eye, and develop their work”

As the show begins, James and Bevin enter the space to the rhythmic sound of a beating drum. Scattered on the floor around the stage are various instruments and props, of both African and European derivation, from the African Mbira to the Triangle. Bevin is resplendent in a colourful Dashiki style top and baggy pantaloon style trousers, while James’ costume also appears to be inspired by African clothing, but with a western twist. His top is similar in style to Bevin’s, but in a denim style, and instead of pantaloons he wears a navy skirt. Using a storytelling structure, both Bevin and James take it in turns to tell stories inspired by their own background and culture. We hear diverse stories such as the Welsh myth of Twm Siôn Cati, the Zimbabwean story of the Snake who crossed the river, and the myth of St Telio – patron saint of Cardiff.

Theses stories clearly demonstrate the very different storytelling traditions of both Celtic and Zimbabwean cultures. While James’ sections are poetic monologues performed with a simple sincerity, Bevin is much more animated, utilizing the call and response technique of audience participation, and allegorical storytelling style more common in in the African tradition. While Everything Changes promises to be a fusion of stories, these two traditions feel like they exist entirely separately within the theatrical space. Both James and Bevin sit entirely still while the other tells a story – there is no interaction or combination of storytelling whatsoever. There is also a strange difference between the two performers; Bevin is clearly an experienced storyteller who is captivating and dynamic, whiles James seems less confident of his oration.  As an experimental piece of work still in progress it is absolutely fine for you to read your lines off a script – however disguising this by hiding your phone away on a music stand to read off is a disservice. It may have been more effective to own this decision, to put the script into a storybook which you are then telling the audience.

A highlight of the piece is the title section Everything Changes; a story about the impermanence of everything. Told while playing the Mbira, the monologue is beautifully enhanced by the dreamlike quality of the instrument. Other uses of instruments meanwhile feel a little more tacked on, with the instruments used in James’ stories adding nothing to the overall effect. Perhaps more sucessful would be to combine both storytellers together, with one telling the story while the other provides a soundscape behind it. Similarly, the ending of the piece, while cleverly experimental, jars with the tone of the rest of the production. This involves James opening the curtains to the venue, allowing us to see out onto the bustling main road and for them to see in to the venue. James then walks out, across the road and out of sight. As an ending this is totally unexpected and an interesting concept, but bears absolutely no relation to the rest of the show.

As a concept the idea of the show is an interesting one – the collision of cultures and storytelling traditions has the potential to be a way of celebrating both cultures while demonstrating clearly both their similarities and their differences. Sadly the execution in this piece is lacking, and the piece feels like two storytellers separately exploring the narratives of their own culture, rather than an exiting fusion of the two. A great concept with some entertaining moments, but ultimately delivered only half baked.

Everything Changes

AJ’s Coffee House May 31st-June 1st 2018

Part of the Cardiff Fringe Theatre Festival – more information and tickets here

Luke Seidel-Haas

Review Teimlo Llais (Feeling Voice), Arcade Cardiff Exhibition, Artists: Penny D Jones, Gemma Green-hope and Sally Richmond by Tafsila Khan

Teimlo Llais (Feeling Voice) exhibition

Artists: Penny D Jones, Gemma Green-hope and Sally Richmond

An installation of touch and sound.

The exhibition is in the gallery ArcadeCardiff Queens Arcade, Queens Street, Cardiff CF10 2BY arcadecardiff.co.uk

Opening Night:18th April 2018 from 6pm-8pm

The exhibition continues from Thursday 19th April until Saturday 5th May

It is open Wednesdays to Saturdays 12:30-5:30

The Gallery ArcadeCardiff is situated within the Queens Arcade shopping centre, the Gallery space opened in 2011 and aims to provide a place for upcoming and established artists to experiment, test out ideas or show new work.

The latest exhibition by Penny D Jones brought together her two interests, women’s voices and the Welsh language. The exhibition was a feast for the senses, with a textured quilt and tactile ceramic work which played a recording of Welsh women speaking in Welsh.

Penny wanted this exhibition to be inclusive and accessible for visually impaired and blind people, this was done well as the exhibition was enjoyed through touch and sound. The pieces of art were all black so worked a little as a leveller for sighted people and people with visual impairments.

One of the pieces had no sound so you were able interpret from it what it made you feel. I have to say this was my favourite piece as I am not a Welsh speaker, however, Penny was on hand to interpret for the other pieces.

This is the first accessible exhibition I have visited, it has my wetted my appetite to find more exhibitions like this.

For more information on this exhibition please go to https://llaismenywod.wordpress.com/

Tafsila Khan

Review Albany Gallery Exhibition, Artists: David Barnes, Aled Prichard Jones, Stephen Yardley by Niamh Mannion

Albany Gallery Exhibition: DAVID BARNES, ALED PRICHARD JONES, STEPHEN YARDLEY       – By Niamh Mannion

Artists: David Barnes, Aled Prichard Jones, Stephen Yardley

Dates: 12th April 2018 to 5th May 2018

(Monday – Saturday: 10am – 5pm / Sunday & Bank Holidays: 11am – 4pm)

Location: 74b Albany Road Cardiff CF24 3RS

Albany Gallery really is a hidden gem of Cardiff. Situated on Albany Road, their latest exhibition featuring the stunning landscapes of Wales transported me from the hustle and bustle of inner city Cardiff to the mountainous landscapes of North Wales and the South Wales coastline.

David Barnes’s landscapes focus on the mountains of Snowdonia, along with the North Wales coast line and Anglesey. Barnes’s landscapes are stylised, placing domestic situations within the rugged beauty of North Wales. Texture is a large component in Barnes’s work, further complementing the rugged nature of the mountainous landscapes. However, Barnes places importance on the domestic landscape also. The soulful and characterful depiction of the home within Barnes’s work contrasts well with the natural surroundings. Indeed, my favourite work of the entire exhibition was ‘Snowdonian Winter’, depicting the comfort of the domestic sphere in contrast to the harshness of the natural world.

Loch Broom / 14x20ins / David Barnes

Similarly to Barnes, Pritchard Jones’s work focuses on the mountainous landscapes of North Wales. The striking landscapes are impressive in scale and a comprised of layered, neutral toned, indistinguishable thick brush strokes. When viewed from a distance the brush strokes inhabit a wild and imposing landscape. Pritchard Jones achieves the delicate balance of presenting a recognisable welsh mountainous landscape, whilst also injecting a feeling of wilderness in the pieces. The depiction of rock and reflection along with the use of shadow gives the work an atmosphere of the untamed.

Cwm Idwal / 60x60cm / Alun Pritchard Jones

In contrast to the work of Barnes and Pritchard Jones, Yardley’s work focuses on the natural landscape of South Wales. Yardley’s landscapes focus on close up depictions of sea and woodland landscapes. These pieces are far less stylised than the other artists, exhibiting delicate brush strokes, dappled with delicate greens and blues. Yardley’s work is underscored by a multitude of both tone and texture, with complements the wild aspect of nature, but also the beauty of the natural world.

Warm Afternoon / 50×50 / Stephen Yardley

To find out more about the exhibition you can visit The Albany Gallery website here:

https://www.albanygallery.com/

 

A response to Casgliad 2018 – Nurturing Youth Arts in Wales By Beth Clark

I am going to explore with you the invaluable discoveries and perspective gained from participating in the YANC event held at the Wales Millennium Centre over last weekend.

Firstly, a massive thank you to YANC and Get the Chance for the opportunity to be part of this event. Ground breaking engagements are being made by YANC with a diverse scope of arts practitioners and young people of today pushing boundaries in delivering up to date masterclasses, whilst providing and facilitating the relaxed and required networking opportunities. I loved the fact that YANC seemed to be almost inclusively driven by what the Youth want out of these sorts of occasions, with lots of brain storming and idea throwing activities around.

As soon as, I walked in, I was greeted by Sarah  Jones, YANC network’s Chair and artistic director for Mess Up the Mess. Sarah kindly told me exactly what was going on and where. A welcome pack was provided in English and Welsh, this included the days schedule where you would choose what masterclasses you wanted to attend which was also sent by email prior, a feedback pull-out, a substantial list of delegates names, company and their email was provided (invaluable data!), when your wish to pursue contact with people that you have met. This handy touch further enables the networking continuing process, after the event, something that is sometimes missed at previous events similar to YANC’s.

The types of delegate in attendance

There were various freelancer’s in attendance, dramaturgs’ and performers’ from many companies and practitioners, many having toured throughout the UK, ladies from SPARC theatre and Valley Kids, Various personnel from Mess up the Mess Theatre, tutors from CAVC and RCT, Flossy and Bo, Opera Sonic, Rawfest, Ethnic minorities and youth support, Team Wales (EYST), Narbeth Youth Theatre, Wales Millennium Centre, 20 stories High, Circus practitioners, Theatre Na nOg, Jukebox collective, Young Identity, Common Wealth theatre, and Paper trail.

I especially enjoyed my chats with a young man called EZ Rah, a Cardiff based Mike Controller, who has recently won an award for his contribution in attendance at Jason Camilleri’s Radio Platform held at the Millennium Centre and that was launched last year. It was also good to see, such a myriad of people from all over Wales and even outside of Wales enjoying and interacting creatively.

Masterclasses

Young Identity

Young Identity is Led by outstanding facilitators, versatile poets and established spoken word performers. Shirley A May @thegirldreams is one of the founders of Young Identity, someone who I found talks deeply from the heart.

It was herself, her daughter, practitioner and spoken word artist Nicole May and Reece Williams, an artist development advocate and one of BBC1 Extras Words First Finalists, that delivered to the group.

The session starts with interactive word, action and mind play. “Hulla hulla Dance, Dance – Hoop, Dance. It was extremely interactive with competitions from the offset. After all that dancing about and whilst our adrenaline was pumping, they asked us to talk about our life stories. They used their own life experiences to encourage people talk about theirs. “Today I was feeling” and you were then asked to write for 5 minutes about this. Some were spoken aloud, then significant sentences were drawn out, through a thought provoking process they taught. “Cloudy with a chance of rain” and, “I often get nervous around people, but I love them”, were proudly spoken by others. Many other practical skills and ways of creating structured poems in the conventional and un-conventional ways were explored and I ended up coming away feeling I could literally carry on with the process they taught and explore the whole concept a lot more having been in attendance.

Shirley May talked about visiting Picasso’s house in Malaga and the journey that Picasso took to get to the end art product and breaking form. She said Art; whether, it’s in written form or whether its structured to everyone’s approval or not, it is about developing but not discarding the old forms and the characterized elements like rhyme, line length, and metrical pattern.

Young Identity encouraged participants to always read; whatever that may be. To push yourself to overcome barriers, stance and with practice how, power can come through your body. The no disclaimer policy whereby you are not allowed to say anything to support or condemn your own words before talking. This is great because it encourages equal levels when delivering this art form. Another thought concept noted, “Is it even a poem, if we cannot hear you speak it?” Reece Williams told us that we could click our fingers also known as snapping, instead of clapping our appraisals and that this is becoming more and more popular in today’s culture.

Young Identity is part of the Frankfurt International school, but sadly has had their funding cut recently from the government. For me an absolute shame, as the work they are doing as like YANC and Common Wealth Theatre needs to be done.

Common Wealth Theatre

Common Wealth make site-specific and award-winning theatre events that encompass electronic sound, new writing, visual design and verbatim. Their work is political and contemporary – based in the present day – the here and now. Described by Lyn Gardner from the Guardian, “a company that bursts open our consciousness”, a statement, I wholly agree with.

Facilitating this event was the absolute amazing Rhiannon White. Rhiannon is the co-founder and co-artistic director of Common Wealth and a Cardiff local. I received an outstanding energy from Rhiannon and the depth of her work is liberating. This part of the day is where I felt I was intensively challenged positively, enforcing collectiveness and the freedom of individual thought. Rhiannon did this well, by firstly asking us to speak to people and tell them random things about yourself, what we are most proud of etc. Before I knew it there was fully grown and smaller humans of all walks of life, dancing around imitating Body Builders, their Fathers after a few, and people in-love.!

It was hilarious, but a respected art form at the same time. Jumping back into the thought pool you were asked to write down three things to do with each thought induced subject. The subjective answers of individuals were then placed into a centred bundle, we talked about these, using different forms of expression, whether voice, movement or complete silence. The range of ways that you could respond in felt like art in present and was moving, emotional and sometimes philosophical.

Rhiannon talked about her projects, what she feels about theatre and how we can all be a part of it. WOW is a festival that celebrates the achievements of woman and girls, also looking at the obstacles woman face across the world. They are holding think in sessions and big public planning meetings starting Wednesday 2nd May at Butetown community centre and around Cardiff at various locations over the period of four days. I would highly recommend attending one of these sessions, which are open to everyone, woman, men, girls and boys.

Last but not least

The YANC Meeting

The very important YANC meeting took place, minutes were provided and accounts. Why did this happen at the networking event? I was thinking this at first then it come to me. If you are going to buy a membership and invest in this group, then surely you would want to know where the money is going? It was a brilliant way of demonstrating just how much work and support is provided. Also, how most of the work done is voluntary, reflecting just how much this group wants to help the youth sector.   There is to be a lot of role swapping and the inclusion of new people this year which is hoped to bring for new and exciting projects. YANC will be supporting RawFfest this year and planning more Casgliad events.

Overview

I need to be honest and give you how I saw attending this event from my very personal view. I had been looking forward to this event for weeks, but I suffer with acute anxiety. My anxiety stopped me from attending the first day as I hadn’t been to this sort of event for some time, I felt I was totally out of the loop, but with help from the fantastic Guy O’Donnell, I attended Sunday and I am elated from the experience. My barriers were instantly broken down, I was enjoying myself, learning, laughing, meeting new people and wondering why the heck I was scared to go in the first place. So, If you are reading this and you too, have anxiety, about these sorts of events, then get in touch with YANC because these meetings are so inclusive, down to earth and real in approach you will worry about nothing and instead be in one creative bubble to the next. They also offer support and membership through email and social media interaction and one to one meets if necessary as well as these fabulous events.

Beth Clark

Preview Teimlo Llais (Feeling Voice) exhibition by Tafsila Khan

Teimlo Llais (Feeling Voice) exhibition

Artists: Penny D Jones, Gemma Green-Hope and Sally Richmond

An installation of touch and sound.

Opening Night: 18th April 2018 6pm-8pm
Exhibition runs from Thursday 19th April until Saturday 5th May (Wednesdays to Saturdays 12:30pm-5:30pm)

Location: Arcade Cardiff, 3b, Queens Arcade, Queen St, Cardiff CF10 2BY

You can listen to Tafsila discussing this exhibition with Penny with the sound file below.

As a visually impaired person I have shied away from attending art exhibitions in the past, as they are normally very visual and often you are not able to touch the art. Last week I met up with Penny D Jones to discuss her upcoming art exhibition called Teimlo Llais (Feeling Voice), the exhibition is a touch and sound experience which Penny hopes will encourage blind and VI people to attend. Penny was originally a painter and still loves to paint, however at the age of 55 Penny attended art college which opened up the world of contemporary art. Penny says that her mind was blown with the possibilities of using different ways to communicate with people.

Penny explained that the exhibition carries on from an earlier piece of work called Llais Menywod (Women’s Voice) in this piece of work she made recordings of predominantly young women having conversations in Welsh about what interested them. For this upcoming exhibition she has taken extracts from the recordings and will use them as soundbites. This exhibition is made up of three different pieces, the first is a large black quilt created by Penny made up of different textured materials, which have an electrical wire threaded through to a speaker which when touched each square of the quilt gives a soundbite of a woman’s voice. The second piece is a smaller quilt which is made up of ceramic tiles, which also houses the sound bites and can be listened to via headphones, Penny worked with different artists on this piece, one of the artists was Sally Richmond. The final piece is a collection of tiles with different textures on the wall which has no sound, so you can enjoy and interpret from them your own ideas. Penny has said that the exhibition contains two of her interests, women’s voices, and the Welsh language. To hear longer extracts of the conversations please follow this link here

To find out more about the exhibition you can pick up a braille or large print version of the leaflet at Cardiff Institute for the Blind (CIB) or listen to the bilingual audio flyer and this can be found in Welsh and English below

Tafsila Khan

 

Get the Chance in the running to be named Wales’ most deaf friendly organisation.

 

Get the Chance in the running to be named Wales’ most deaf friendly organisation.

Get the Chance is in the running to be named as one of Wales’ best organisations for being accessible to deaf people.

The shortlist has been announced for the Excellence Wales Awards 2018 – the annual awards run by Action on Hearing Loss Cymru.

The charity’s awards recognise businesses that take steps to make their services accessible to the 575,500 people in Wales who are deaf or have hearing loss.

All organisations either nominated themselves or were put forward by a person who is deaf and has received a good service in the past year.

The shortlist is now in the running to be awarded one of four titles;

  • Service Excellence
  • Excellence in Health
  • Excellence in Arts and Entertainment
  • Excellent Employer

The awards will be decided by an independent panel, made up of people who are deaf or have hearing loss. A People’s Choice Award will be chosen by the public, to vote for Get the Chance in this category please click on the link  here.

Rebecca Woolley, Director of Action on Hearing Loss Cymru said,

“The judging panel now have a difficult job to decide the winners from an impressive shortlist. All the shortlisted organisations prove that simple changes can really improve the lives of people with hearing loss. I hope that organisations across Wales are inspired by this shortlist and start thinking about the simple changes they can make to ensure their services are accessible to the one-in-six people who are deaf or have hearing loss.”

Guy O’Donnell, Director, Get the Chance said,

“Our volunteers produce unique content which supports Deaf audiences and artists to ensure a range of opinions are seen and read relating to sport and cultural provision. We are honoured and humbled to be shortlisted as part of this years awards.”

The awards will be held at Cardiff’s St David’s Hotel on 4 May 2018, presented by ITV Wales News reporter Megan Boot.

Sharing Positive Action to support Access, Inclusion and Diversity

In this article we interview a range of arts professionals to share good practice in the areas of Access, Inclusion and Diversity.

Meredydd Barker 

Hi can you please tell us a little about yourself and your practice?

I’m a playwright, artistic director of Narberth Youth Theatre and the west Wales rep for Youth Arts Network Cymru – YANC

 Which area/s of good practice in the arts relating to the themes of access, inclusion and diversity would you like to highlight?

It begins with the young. Youth Arts Network Cymru – YANC – is doing tremendous work in this regard in the hope that as the young people involved grow older and, perhaps, make a career in the arts, best practice can spread through the industry . Then, one day, access, inclusion and diversity will not be issues that have to be continually addressed. They won’t be issues at all.

Helena Davies

Hi can you please tell us a little about yourself and your practice?

Hi, I’m Helena Davies, and I’m a linguist with a background in Technical Translation and English as a Foreign Language. I have a BA in Italian and Spanish, an MA in Literary Translation and I am currently preparing for my Welsh Mynediad exam in June. I moved to Cardiff from London last year, and over the last couple of months, I have been training to become a Captioner, working on producing film and TV subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing. I recently received audio description training from Dr Louise Fryer, BBC Radio 3 Presenter and Audio Describer, and Anne Hornsby of Mind’s Eye, both pioneers in UK audio description. I am now looking to establish a career in Captioning and Audio Description. I dance samba de gafieira and samba funkeado, and am passionate about media and arts accessibility.

Which area/s of good practice in the arts relating to the themes of access, inclusion and diversity would you like to highlight?

With a strong interest in dance and accessibility, I was delighted to be invited by Carole Blade, Creative Producer for Dance in Wales, to attend a three-day audio description training course based on the Family Dance Festival at Chapter Arts Centre. Over an intense three days, we learnt how best to audio describe dance, which is considered to be one of the hardest mediums to describe. We all concurred that “Drifter” by Jukebox Collective, featuring the talented Kate Morris, was by far the trickiest to describe. The Family Dance Festival is presented by Bombastic and Coreo Cymru, and features four short audio described dance performances in Welsh and English, with accompanying touch tours. It is a great initiative and exciting to see dance being opened up to all. The Family Dance Festival is running from 24 March to 14 April 2018

Elise Davison

Hi can you please tell us a little about yourself and your practice?

I’m the co founder and Artistic Director of Taking Flight Theatre Company, the company I co founded with Beth House in 2008. Before this I was an actress for 10 years, a teacher, a presenter and a facilitator. Taking Flight is an inclusive company originally set up to break down the barriers, or perceived barriers to participation in the arts. We have been integrating access tools into our work for a long time now and act as creative access consultant for many other theatres companies. We have produced over 17 tours of Wales, run many residencies and trained many facilitators in our 10 years. We have recently become a disability led organisation, as over half of our Board of Directors identify as disabled, and this is really important to us.

Currently we are touring our inclusive family show You’ve got Dragons which gently raised the issues of Mental Wellbeing in young people and accompany this with free resilience building ‘Dragon Taming’ workshops which have been created in collaboration with clinical psychologists. This is touring the whole of the UK and is a really exciting development for the company. It’s been great to find so many theatres in England keen to programme inclusive work. We are a company that seeks to nurture the next generation of theatre makers, we have taken risks with casting, with our creative access, with our marketing materials. As creatives we take risks with everything else we do so we need to be prepared to do so with regards to diversity and access. It’s great to see some of our former employees ‘take flight’ and set up on their own e.g. Sami Thorpe and Chloe Clarke of Elbow Room and we continue to wish them every success on their new adventures. TF offer support and advice when we can and do everything within our power to ensure we make our work and our process as accessible as possible. We make mistakes, we often get it wrong and we continue to learn and to develop our work and we love to collaborate…many heads are better than one!

Which area/s of good practice in the arts relating to the themes of access, inclusion and diversity would you like to highlight?

Fio – Abdul is doing so much to raise the issues around the lack of diversity in Wales and is producing some cracking work. We hope to work more closely with Fio in the future.

Mess up the Mess – a ‘quietly inclusive’ company that really nurture the young people they work with creating strong, independent theatre makers with excellent ideas about access. Can’t wait to work with them again – we continue to learn from them.

Hijinx Theatre – producing excellent touring work and taking the international scene by storm, this company is changing the attitude towards in inclusive work featuring learning disabled actors. Meet Fred continues to tour across the world and the next show The Flop is sure to be another success. Additionally the academies which are now running pan Wales are a real example of the kind of training that we need to have in place to nurture the next generation of learning disabled performers. We would love to have the capacity to run an ongoing training forum for D/deaf/HOH and disabled performers and are in conversations with a number of organisations about this.

Ramps on the Moon – an amazing initiative in England which is placing disabled performers and accessible productions on main stages and in producing houses across the UK.

Stopgap Dance – they have been so generous to us over the last year, giving us advice and putting us in touch with like minded organisations and really are the leading lights in inclusive dance. Love their work. www.stopgapdance.com

WMC – Jenny Sturt is making massive changes and embracing access and inclusion in a huge way. Her drive and passions is infectious!

Yvonne Murphy – has produced some excellent all female work and is enthusiastic and determined to challenge any inequality which may lead to people being excluded from the arts.

Bath Spa and The Atrium – I’ve worked with both these organisations as a creative access consultant and have worked to integrate a BSL interpreter ( the wonderful Julie Doyle and Tony Evans) into their shows and to integrate audio description. It’s great that the Universities that are training the next generation of actors feel so strongly about making accessible work. The students have loved the process and have been inspired to think more creatively about access as a result. Long may it continue!

Creu Cymru and hynt – Still doing fab work with venues via the hynt card scheme. It’s also been great to host our 4th access symposium Wales – a diverse nation? at Theatr Clywd with Creu Cymru in Feb, such a great bunch of people attended and so many ideas were generated and will hopefully start to be put into play. As a result we are hosting free access meeting – practical access solutions at WMC once a month and the first one sold out in 12hrs! So there is obviously a want to be more diverse and a desire to be part of the conversation, we all just need to be a tiny bit braver and not worry so much about getting it wrong!

Ucan go! app – also needs a mention here – an app to help orientate blind or partially sighted visitors at theatres, it’s so great it would be wonderful to see more venues investing in this.

Adeola Dewis

Can you please tell us a little about yourself and your practice?

My name is Adeola and I am an artist and researcher working across visual arts and performance. My practice engages conceptual, performative and aesthetic notions on Carnival, ritual, folk and emancipatory performances.

Which area/s of good practice in the arts relating to the themes of access, inclusion and diversity would you like to highlight?

I highlight Carnival as an area that exemplifies good practice in terms of inclusion, diversity and access.

Jacob Gough

Hi can you please tell us a little about yourself and your practice?

My name is Jacob Gough, I’m Production Manager for National Theatre Wales, which in a nutshell involves the logistical planning for productions.

Which area/s of good practice in the arts relating to the themes of access, inclusion and diversity would you like to highlight?

I would like to highlight the amazing work of companies that don’t just champion but incorporate access into their shows; companies like Taking Flight, UCAN Arts, Hijinx, Llanarth Group and artists like Jonny Cotsen amongst others. Companies and artists are doing a lot more work now to provide captioning, BSL and audio-described performances, which is great to see. Access forums are a fantastic mechanism to help organisations and artists share knowledge and learning, and a lot of new technologies are being developed that help accessibility; all of which helps develop this all-important feature of the arts.

Jafar Iqbal

Hi can you please tell us a little about yourself and your practice?

I’m a freelance artist and arts critic. I’ve written for publications such as The Stage, WhatsOnStage and Wales Arts Review, as well as regional and online publications over the course of my career. I’m also a scriptwriter and storyteller.

Which area/s of good practice in the arts relating to the themes of access, inclusion and diversity would you like to highlight?

I’d like to raise awareness about Where I’m Coming From, a monthly Open Mic event hosted by writers Durre Shahwar and Hanan Issa. Currently at the Tramshed in Cardiff every month, the spoken word event is aimed predominantly at the BAME population. Going to one of these events is an enlightening experience, as its attended by people who you usually wouldn’t see at other such events. It’s become a safe space for writers to express themselves in a welcoming environment and, for many of these people, the first time they’ve ever shared their creativity to an audience. A fantastic event.

Rachel Pedley Miller

Hi can you please tell us a little about yourself and your practice?

I run Avant Cymru. At Avant we aim to be acceptable creating work with audiences and delivering projects that are accessible to many individuals. In the past we have used apps such as swipe to caption our performances and we have worked in venues which are acceptable to those with mobility issues. We work with the community into raise our awareness of the needs. We also look to highlight a range of needs especially through our continual drama Rhondda Road, which is directed by Shane Anderson. Rhondda Road will be starting again in May 2019 and we would love to have a character in the show who would want to raise further awareness of the difficulties people who have a disability have accessing the arts. As a dyslexic person living with a chronic illness, I refuse to let my conditions prevent me from trying new things and will always work with audience and cast members to make the shows as accessible as possible. To date Avant have not produced one show without BAME cast members, we have also employed LBGT cast members on various projects. This has not been something that we have shouted about as we have seen our staff as the best people for the job, the fact that they identify as disabled, LBGT, disabled or from a BAME background is for them. We just see everyone that is hired as the best person for their role and we are proud that we see diverse people as equals.

Which area/s of good practice in the arts relating to the themes of access, inclusion and diversity would you like to highlight?

I think that it is important to look at each project, Consider if it is relevant to 2018. What I mean is if there is a pre-written script is it possible to make it appealing or relevant to audiences now. Because if it isn’t then Avant are not interested in producing that show.
When we have established a compelling idea we look to hire someone who has the correct skills, energy and enthusiasm to create the work. Looking for a cast member who can ply the role with the right drive, rather than worrying if they can tick a diversity box. Seeing each individual on their own merit and supporting them to make a career in the arts, or to participate in the arts should be considered on a person by person basis and implementing various tools to make work and audience opportunities accessible to all should be considered. We always evaluate after each show, so far our audiences have been happy that they have been able to access Avants work. We need to keep evolving to have more tools in place so we are able to cater for different individuals.

Yvonne Murphy

Hi can you please tell us a little about yourself and your practice?

I run Omidaze Productions. I set it up back in 2008 specifically to use drama and theatre to shake stuff up, entertain new audiences and inspire change. We make politically grounded theatre, run workshops in schools and produce annual Summer Schools for young people which give full scholarship places to those for whom economics make the arts harder to reach. Our first production and tour (Things Beginning With M) examined how women learn from each other about everything from Motherhood to the Menopause, Miscarriages, Menstruation, Masturbation, Men, Money, Marriage, Mysogyny, Media Images and Maturity. Everthing begins with M!

I am really interested in smashing down boundaries between different art forms and exploring the difference between for example a visual art installation and set design or dance and movement/physical theatre. I love to smash the fourth wall and explore how audiences behave when you break the rules, or even have none at all. I like theatre to break beyond the confines of the designated space and like using unusual public spaces to entice and spark curiousity in those who might not otherwise enter a theatre.

I use visual artists, stand-up comedians, circus choreograhers and aerialists and movement directors to help me discover what will entice new audiences into the theatre and allow text to become relevant, accessible and visceral.

I created, directed and produced the Shakespeare Trilogy (co-productions with the Wales Millennium Centre) which consisted of two all-female productions immersive site specific productions in the WMC roof void (Richard III 2015 & Henry VI 2016) a ‘gateway’ Shakespeare production which strived to reach younger audiences and used a BAME strong and gender balanced cast.

I am deeply concerned by the inequality within our society and within the theatre industry where we tell and share our stories which help us to connect and make sense of our world and what it is to be human. I therefore strive to make work which challenges myself and the status quo and attempt to raise awareness of that deeply ingrained inequality, issues of social injustice, conflict and stuff which I believe needs to shift and change through my work.

Which area/s of good practice in the arts relating to the themes of access, inclusion and diversity would you like to highlight?

The Young Vic did some good work on how we should think and act differently as cultural organisations when recruiting. Where and how we recruit for positions at all levels is key. Recruitment processes could be so much more creative and reach people from different sectors and walks of life. They have walked the talk with the recruitment of their new Artistic Director, Kwame Kwei-Armah.

Taking Flight have taught me so much about inclusivity in theatre and I would love to see the day when they no longer need to call themselves an inclusive theatre company because EVERY theatre company should be an inclusive theatre company.

The Clore Leadership Programme gave me phenomenal training in so many areas including governance and is striving to change the face of cultural leadership within the UK and make it more equally representative. It made me realise how key governance is and if the board of an organisation is not leading the way in challenging systemic inequality then the organisation most likely won’t be either. Any board which is truly diverse and ensures that trustees step down after a set period of 5-6 years is good practice.

Kaite O’Reilly

Hi can you please tell us a little about yourself and your practice?

Hi of course, please find some information on myself below,

Kaite O’Reilly is an award winning Playwright who works both in the so-called mainstream and disability arts and culture. Awarded the Peggy Ramsay award & Ted Hughes award for new works in poetry for ‘Persians’ with National Theatre Wales (NTW). A leading figure in disability arts and culture internationally, she received three Cultural Olympiad commissions and her Unlimited commission production with NTW of ‘In Water I’m Weightless’ was part of the official festival celebrating the 2012 London olympics/Paralympic and created an important political and cultural precedent – the first production written from a disability perspective with an all Deaf and disabled cast performing on such a high profile national platform. She is currently touring ‘Richard iii redux’ – reclaiming Richard iii as a disabled icon and her 2018 Unlimited international commission ‘and suddenly I disappear – the Singapore ‘d’ monologues’ premieres in Singapore in May and comes to U.K. to tour in September. Her acclaimed collected ‘Atypical Plays for Atypical Actors’ are published by Oberon. She is patron of Disability Arts Cymru and DaDaFest and publishes widely about diversity, inclusion and disability.

Which area/s of good practice in the arts relating to the themes of access, inclusion and diversity would you like to highlight?

I think it’s about changing the whole way performance is made, how, about, and with whom, it’s the content and material as much as including innovative use of the aesthetics of access. Theatre is supposed to be the study of what it is to be human and yet it still has a very narrow perspective – we need to broaden this in the stories we tell, the protagonists we create and the theatre languages we use (integrated Sign interpretation, captioning, audio description, etc).

I have written widely about what I call ‘alternative dramaturgies informed by a Deaf and disability perspective’ when AHRC creative fellow 2003-06 and 2010-2017 when fellow at International Research Centre in Berlin. We could be far more inventive – and work, like mine, had been going on for decades but is still marginalised. We need to make this central . But not just access as add-on – we need disabled and Deaf writers, makers, directors, designers, performers etc and this should be mainstream not ‘inclusive’ for brownie points.

You can read more from Kaite on this subject matter at the links below,

The Necessity of Diverse Voices in Theatre Regarding Disability and Difference

Cripping the Crip—Is It Time to Reclaim Richard III?

Chloe Philips

Hi can you please tell us a little about yourself and your practice?

I’m Chloë Clarke, a visually impaired actor, director and theatre maker and cofounder of Elbow Room Theatre Company in Cardiff. I have been working as a performer for 8 years and now focus on making my own work, both as an individual and with ERT partner Sami Thorpe, which champions creative access and truthfully representing disabled people within the arts. ERT is committed to producing new writing that does the same while showcasing relevant and cutting edge work.

I also work as an audio description consultant, which means I work with companies, venues and artists to integrate AD into their work through joining their devising and R&D process, or find creative ways to add it to existing work in a way that is inherent to the piece’s unique style.

Which area/s of good practice in the arts relating to the themes of access, inclusion and diversity would you like to highlight?

The recent discussions and debates surrounding diversity in the arts, within Cardiff and on a global scale through events like the Oscars and the promotion of the inclusion rider, are vital and long overdue. If you’re not from a minority it may not seem relevant, it may in fact feel quite uncomfortable, but we all have a responsibility to ensure that we, as artists, provide fair representation of our society through all facets of our practice, and to date we have fallen worryingly short of this. However, the very fact that these debates are taking place in our industry is a very positive sign. Now it’s time to act.

I, for one, can only speak from my own experience as a female disabled artist. As well as stipulating the need for wider and truer representation of people like me in the arts, I’d also like to highlight the importance of considering access from the outset of any project – namely the writing of a script or the start of R&D wherein a piece is being devised. Once we start committing to this idea across the board the arts will become fairer.

I will always advocate for creative, integrated access rather than ‘traditional’ methods (an attitude that I have encouraged and nurtured within many companies I have worked with over the years to great effect), as this is the best means by which access can become relevant to every audience member and not just those with access requirements. It’s wonderful that the collective consciousness is growing in this regard and that more creatives are becoming aware of the opportunities afforded them by considering access as inherent to their work – we just need more. More awareness, more action, more choice.

We still have quite a way to go to overcome a lot of the barriers faced by audiences, performers and companies, but as long as we talk AND act (and start engaging diverse people in these conversations rather than just listening to white, straight, middle class, non-disabled people talking about what ‘they’ need) the positive changes we’ve started to notice happening will gain momentum.

So, no one shut up! Let’s keep this going and hear from the diverse array of people we actually have in this industry.

Good practice (very generally speaking) is to openly discuss issues surrounding diversity rather than shying away from them because they’re awkward. In more specific terms, Graeae are the obvious UK trailblazers with regard to best practice surrounding access, particularly for d/Deaf audiences and performers. As everyone who works in disability arts knows, nobody ever gets it 100% right all the time, that’s where open dialogue needs to be continual. It never hurts to ask questions.

Gagglebabble really impressed me with their commitment to having a VI consultant involved from the outset on one of their latest of projects and their commitment to auditioning VI performers for at least one role in the show. They have taken a very natural approach to it without any hint of wanting to tick a box, and their high standards can only help to improve general perceptions of what a quietly integrated cast can do.

If all ‘mainstream’ companies could adopt the same attitude – very openly and naturally deferring to those with lived experience to guide them on best practice and having the intention of also representing this on stage, while not making a big song and dance (sorry, couldn’t resist) about it – things would move forward much more smoothly and there would be little need for drum-banging from those of us who are marginalised.

Elena Schmitz,  Head of Programmes at Literature Wales.

Hi can you please tell us a little about yourself and your practice?

My name is Elena Schmitz and I am the Head of Programmes at Literature Wales. In this role, I am responsible for the development, effective management and operational delivery of Literature Wales’ varied programmes including high-profile projects in Community Participation; Arts & Health; International Development and Writer Development. So quite a varied role. I am particularly interested in collaboration, co-production, interdisciplinary work and in achieving social change through arts provision.

We have been running many inclusive literature community projects for a number of years, most notably the South Wales Literature Development Initiative (SWLDI) which is now called Lit Reach and has been extended further to areas in North Wales. We are also currently facilitating a number of health and wellbeing projects, including the delivery in Wales of the UK-wide Reading Friends Project, as well as our new Health & Wellbeing Funding Scheme.

Which area/s of good practice in the arts relating to the themes of access, inclusion and diversity would you like to highlight?

I think many arts organisations in Wales are exemplary in this and others can learn a lot from their approaches. Some of them have focused on access, inclusion and diversity for years and this is absolutely part of the raison d’être of the work that they do. For example, Hijinx Theatre is brilliant at co-producing high quality theatre with disabled and non-disabled artists, while Valleys Kids focuses on providing opportunities for disadvantaged families. Head4Arts has worked tirelessly in providing meaningful, empowering arts experiences to the disadvantaged communities of the heads of the valleys. NTW’s TEAM is a great model of widening access for larger arts organisations and allowing for more shared decision-making and wider reach of the organisation’s work. The new BAME community-led Where I’m Coming From collective organises regular literature events in Grangetown in Cardiff, arising from the need for more diversity in the literature sector.

Across the UK there are a number of really inspiring projects. One that I find very powerful is the Fun Palaces initiative, conceived by writer and activist Stella Duffy. At the heart of this growing and influential project lies the believe that everyone is an artist and everyone a scientist, and that creativity in the community can change the world for the better. Fun Palaces is an ongoing campaign for cultural democracy, with an annual weekend of action every October. The campaign promotes culture at the heart of community and community at the heart of culture.

I think the model of co-producing work with (rather than for) communities and shaping things together is increasingly important for all arts organisations. Arts and culture that truly matters and changes minds needs to be shaped by all, not just by an elite minority.

Sami Thorpe

Hi can you please tell us a little about yourself and your practice?

Hi, I’m Sami, I work as a performer and also as a qualified British Sign Language/English Interpreter. I am also a cofounder of Elbow Room Theatre Company. I have a longstanding passion for inclusion and accessibility in the Arts ever since training at a unique degree course at the University of Reading; Theatre Arts, Education and Deaf Studies.

Which area/s of good practice in the arts relating to the themes of access, inclusion and diversity would you like to highlight?

I thought it might help to share the dates for the British Sign Language Interpretation for the productions below over the next few months which I am providing.

All But Gone – The Other Room Theatre,  7:30pm (plus post show talk) 05/04/2018 (Thurs)

BSL video info:

Almost Always Muddy – Wales Millennium Centre
11am & 3pm, 08/04/2018 (Sun)

The Girl With Incredibly Long Hair – Wales Millennium Centre
11am & 3pm, 13/04/2018 (Friday)

Fleabag – Wales Millennium Centre
8pm, 27/04/2018 (Friday)

The Effect – The Other Room Theatre
7:30pm, 03/05/2018 (Thursday)

Rhiannon White

Hi can you please tell us a little about yourself and your practice?

I’m a Cardiff born, Cardiff based theatre director. I mainly work with my theatre company Common Wealth but I also work on freelance stuff which has ranged from taking a circus to Gaza to making a show on a beach.

I think it was growing up in St.Mellons, Cardiff  that got me into theatre. We didn’t have very much growing up but what we did have is loads of kids to play with. I spent my childhood playing in the street, dressing kids up in my mums old clothes and on plays on in the garden. I think that’s where my DIY spirit came from in those early lessons of making the most of what you’ve got.

My company Common Wealth grew out of those roots – we were a group of people that came together to make theatre. We started with nothing, making shows in large empty buildings, without funding and with the generosity of people who wanted to get involved.

Over the years Common Wealth has grown, we’ve made work in many different places, with incredible groups of people and have worked  on shows in places like Neath, Chicago and Germany.

Which area/s of good practice in the arts relating to the themes of access, inclusion and diversity would you like to highlight?

Last year I completed a report called  CLASS  ‘The Elephant in the Room’s it was researched, written and performed as part of my Arts Council Wales supported Clore Fellowship (2015 – 2016) and was funded by the Arts Humanities and Research Council. The purpose of CLASS The Elephant in the room is to investigate the inherent social conditions that exist in the creative industries today; social conditions such as social class and geographic location that can influence and determine a career in the arts. It pays attention to the contradictions that play out where class is considered, and how these contradictions continue to reproduce and reinforce class divisions.

It is an auto-ethnographic study that draws from my own personal experience and combines it with interviews with others who share a similar position. It provides a personal testimony on working in a sector that is dominated by white, middle-class, males.

This report was first and foremost delivered as a live performance debate that provides a resource for theatres, artists and institutions to use if they would like to form their own discussions around the themes of diversity and class.

You can access the full report at this link

 

Common Wealth are also starting a Youth Theatre Lab in Cardiff. The aim of this youth theatre is not to play games or train to become an actor (although this might happen too.) The Youth Theatre Lab is about developing the skills to make theatre that has something to say. The YTL will be a place of experimentation – we will collaborate with highly experienced theatre practitioners, choreographers, visual artists and composers to develop important work by and for young people. The Youth Theatre Lab is  FREE but booking is required. Its or ages 13-18 6pm-8pm and starts on Wednesday 4 April.

Nickie Miles-Wildin

Hi can you please tell us a little about yourself and your practice?

My name is Nickie Miles-Wildin and I’m a theatre maker. I’m currently Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme, Resident Assistant Director based at The Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. I am also Artistic Director of TwoCan Theatre Company based in Gloucestershire, where I’m originally from. Alongside my colleagues Becky Andrews and Louise Partridge we set up TwoCan to promote diversity in the arts and enable D/deaf and disabled people access to the arts, something that was lacking in the county. We have a successful youth theatre and have produced work made by professional disabled actors, writers and directors.

Which area/s of good practice in the arts relating to the themes of access, inclusion and diversity would you like to highlight?

I would highlight the work of Graeae as they have been going for 30+years and continue to push the barriers of access. They have taught me what I know and I continue to admire their work. Ramps On The Moon builds on the Graeae model and will hopefully change the views of directors and audiences as it progresses. In Wales I admire the work of Elbow Room who are challenging us all about creative use of audio description. We all fall in love with sign language (have our epiphanies) and Elbow Room are making us do the same abut audio description.

Any companies pioneered by D/deaf and disabled artists are the ones for me. We face the biggest barriers as sometimes we can’t even get into buildings to see work. Or even into training establishments. Extant, Birds Of Paradise, Fittings, Access All Areas, Daryl Beeton theatre maker, PAD Productions  are all up there as some of my highlights.