Category Archives: Museums & heritage

Newquay Zoo, Tempo Time Credits, Hannah Goslin

Thanks to our contributions to Get The Chance Wales, a long standing partnership with Tempo Time Credits rewards us for our volunteer contributions to the site. Tempo has a lot of unique and interesting offers, with these being exchanged for credits earned per review.

I have in the past used these to access entry to the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, trips on Uber Clipper Boats and I have donated these to others. Other offers during Covid existed such as subscriptions to Disney plus. The credits can be used across the country, for a range of activities from culture, to health and fitness to heritage and more.

An Easter weekend resulted in me spending time with my whole family, containing 4 children aged 11 to 3. Struggling to decide what to do with them, but being a 1 hour drive from Cornwall, I booked us into Newquay Zoo, as offered by Tempo. It was so easy and straight forward, and it allowed us a really lovely day in the chilly but lovely Easter sun. We saw a wealth of animals and read about the zoo’s contribution to conservation. Favourites of the kids ranged from Otters, Penguins and Lynx cats, while us adults loved Warty Pigs, Armadillos and Red Pandas. Delicious and affordable lunch was available, freshly made on site with fresh brewed coffee, and a mid visit ice cream and play in the playground nicely broke up the walk around and a outlet for the kids to expel their energy. The Easter weekend brought a treasure trail for the kids to spot eggs with letters around the zoo, resulting in an anagram we needed to decipher to win an Otter experience. Another very fun addition.

Booking was simple and easy and obtaining the tickets further at the zoo was simple and quick. We had a wonderful time and big thanks to Tempo for enabling us to do so!

“We have lots of fascinating, unique, and distinctive collections here, I am excited to share them with new audiences” An interview with Judith Dray and Mandie Garrigan, Library Services, Royal Welsh College of Music

Top Judith Dray, Head of Library Services, RWCMD, below Mandie Garrigan, Libraries Assistant, RWCMD. Judith Dray Photograph © Edmond Choo Photography

In this interview, Director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell chats to Judith Dray, Head of Library Services, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Mandie Garrigan, Libraries Assistant, RWCMD. We discuss their roles at the College, access to the library, the Drama Association of Wales Collection and their latest recommendations!

What got you interested in the library service?

MG: I have a background in the performing arts and managing bookshops in Hay-on-Wye but more importantly my jobs have been customer serviced based which is required for this role. The library service here is a little different, it allows me to interact with our staff and students, but I’ve also been working with our archives and special collections (mostly the College Archives and The Foyle Opera, Rara Collection).

Working in the library also involves helping on projects, creating working systems and generally having a go at anything! I started managing the DAW (Drama Association of Wales) collection when I covered for a maternity post 5 years ago. I manage all the memberships, orders, invoicing and have catalogued the sets in the past.

JD: Like Mandie, I have a background in performing arts. I also have lots of experience working in higher education, both working with research collections and supporting learning. I originally came to the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (RWCMD) as an archivist in 2018 and then was seconded to Head of Library Services during the pandemic and became permanent in 2022. The role marries together my background in the performing arts with my passions for libraries and higher education. We have lots of fascinating, unique, and distinctive collections here: I’ve loved finding out about them and I’m excited to share them with new audiences.

The RWCMD library houses the Drama Association of Wales (DAW) collection. This is the largest lending collection of scripts in English in the UK and is available for hire to individuals and groups. Can you tell me more about the collection and how it’s used?

JD: The Drama Association of Wales formerly housed the largest lending collection of scripts in English in the UK. In 2014, the play text collection transferred to the RWCMD Library and is available for hire to individuals and groups. Mandie is the person who works most closely with the collection and the people and groups who borrow from it.

MG: The collection inherited some members when it came here, so when it arrived a membership scheme was set up where groups or individuals pay to become members. This allows them to have access to the collection and borrow plays. We have some University of the Third Age members, amateur drama groups, play reading groups and individuals who enjoy our plays. Over the last few years, Covid has changed the way people meet and groups are only just getting back together, so the service is now running again. We would like to develop the service over the next few years, and it is currently under review.

Michael Sheen patron of Drama Association of Wales and International Chair of Drama, RWCMD said of the collection “This drama collection is of hugely significant cultural value. It’s imperative that it’s saved for the nation. It seems fitting that it’s been rescued by the Royal Welsh College, and found its rightful home at the National Conservatoire of Wales.”

Michael Sheen, © Kiran Ridley Photography

Can the public access the RWCMD Library?

JD: We welcome community members to the RWCMD Library. It’s free to browse and members of the public can join in order to borrow items. There’s more information about joining online here and we welcome enquiries by email (

MG: Yes, anyone can join as Judith says, and you can now browse a portion of the DAW collection online. I think around 2,800 of the DAW plays have been catalogued now, mainly the sets.

With increased pressure on public funding many Library services have been cut or are under threat, why are libraries important to you and wider society?

JD: As an academic library, we are not facing the same existential threats as many public libraries have faced in recent times, but it is a worrying trend. Libraries are not just about lending books. At their best, libraries can foster communities; they can provide safe spaces; and they can promote equality and inclusion by giving free access to resources, computers, and equipment.

What was the last really great book that you read that you would like to share with our readers?

JD: Earlier this year I read Whole Notes: Life Lessons through Music by Ed Ayres. I’ve been recommending it to everyone and bought a copy for the RWCMD Library. It is about music, healing, the lived experiences of a transgender musician, teaching, learning and so much more. It also includes Spotify playlists which enable the reader to share in some of Ed’s experiences which I thought was a lovely touch.

MG: Not my last but I am reading Breath: A New Science of a Lost Art by James Nester which is also available in our library. I’m only on the first few chapters but it’s one of those books that can challenge your perception on something we all do. I enjoy books that question the way we think about our bodies and mental health. I am also very keen browser of our art and design books, one of my favourites being Stages of decay by Julia Solis, a book depicting various theatres/performing areas in dilapidated conditions which are strangely beautiful.

Participants call-out for Trawsnewid at Amgueddfa Cymru/ National Museum Wales

Trawsnewid is an Amgueddfa Cymru- National Museum Wales project aimed at LGBTQ+ young people aged 16-25. The project is run partly online and in person at the Waterfront Museum in Swansea.

The project explores queer Welsh history and the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ people living in Wales today through talks and workshops. There is also opportunity for participants to deliver their own talks and workshops with support from the museum. So far, the group have created a digital cabaret and a delivered a series of workshops for Swansea Pride and are working towards creating a museum takeover event and an exhibition at the Waterfront Museum in March.  

We are looking for new participants to join this project, so if you identify as LGBTQ+ and are aged 16-25 and would like to get involved with the Trawsnewid project, please email for more information. 

If you would like to watch the Pride Cabaret created by the participants of Trawsnewid, you can view it below:

An Interview with Actor and Director Eleri B. Jones, conducted by Gareth Williams

In this latest interview, Get the Chance member Gareth Williams chats to actor and director Eleri B. Jones.

Eleri is a graduate of the University of Manchester and Drama Centre London. She is currently undertaking a traineeship with Theatr Clwyd as an Assistant Director.

Here, she talks to us about the traineeship; her involvement in Clwyd’s latest production, The Picture of Dorian Gray; a collaborative project with the North East Wales archives*; and representation and the arts in Wales.

To find out more about The Picture of Dorian Gray, including how to purchase tickets, click here.

*Below is one of four videos produced by Theatr Clwyd in collaboration with the North East Wales Archives as part of the project ‘Women Rediscovered…’. To watch them all, click here to access their YouTube channel.

Get the Chance supports volunteer critics like Gareth to access a world of cultural provision. We receive no ongoing, external funding. If you can support our work please donate here thanks.

Interview conducted
by Gareth Williams


Helo, fy enw i yw Cerian a dwi’n hwylusydd ymgysylltu ieuenctid am yr Amgueddfa Cymru. Rydyn ni’n dechrau prosiect newydd am bobl ifanc LHDT+ o oedran 16- 25. Enw’r prosiect yw Trawsnewid, bydd y prosiect yn canolbwyntio ar y thema o drawsnewidiadau. Trwy’r prosiect byddwn ni’n archwilio pobl draws a gwrthiant cydymffurfio rhywedd o hanes Cymraeg a’r profiadau o bobl sy’n byw heddiw. 

Bydd cyfarfod bob ail wythnos gyda’r bobl ifanc, bydd y sesiynau yn weithdai creadigol sy’n archwilio’r thema o’r prosiect gyda’r cyfle am y cyfranogwyr i redeg sesiynau eu hunain. Trwy’r prosiect byddwn ni’n gweithio tuag at cynnal ddigwyddiadau fel trosfeddiannu’r Amgueddfa yn yr Amgueddfa genedlaethol y Glannau yn Abertawe ac arddangosfa o’r gwaith sy’n cael ei chreu dros y prosiect. Bydd y prosiect yn cael ei addasu am y diddordebau’r grŵp fel celf, perfformio, ysgrifennu creadigol neu hanes. 

Bydd y prosiect yn dechrau gyda sesiwn ar lein am 6yp ar y 24ain o Chwefror, byddwn ni’n cyflwyno’r prosiect, cyfarfod ei’n gilydd a dylunio cerdyn post sy’n cael ei ysbrydoli gan y casgliad LHDT+ yr amgueddfa. 

Os ydych chi eisiau cymryd rhan yn y prosiect, cael unrhyw gwestiynau am y brosiect neu yn gwybod unrhyw berson ifanc gyda diddordeb i gymryd rhan anfon e-bost i:

Trawsnewid A New Project for LGBTQ+ young people aged 16-25 from Amgueddfa Cymru- National Museum Wales.

Hello, my name is Cerian and I am a youth engagement facilitator for Amgueddfa Cymru- National Museum Wales. We are about to start a project for LGBTQ+ young people aged 16-25. The project is called Trawsnewid and is going to be focused around the theme of transformations. Throughout this project we will be exploring trans and gender non-conforming figures in Welsh history and lived experiences today. 

There will be a bi-weekly meeting with the young people, these sessions will be creative workshops exploring the theme of the project with the opportunity for the participants to run their own sessions. Throughout the project we will be working towards putting on our own events such as a museum takeover at the Waterfront Museum in Swansea and an exhibition of the work created throughout the project. The project will be tailored to the interests of the group, whether that’s history, art, creative writing, performance etc. 

The project will begin with an online session on the 24th February at 6pm, we will be introducing the project, getting to know each other and designing our own postcard inspired by the museum’s LGBT+ Collection. 

If you would like to get involved in the project, find out any more information about the project or know of any young people who would be interested please email: 

“Get the Chance has not only given me a voice – it has given me the space, the opportunity and the confidence to use it.”

In the article below members of the Get the Chance team share why the work of Get the Chance is important to them and their lives.

You can make a donation to support the work of Get the Chance here

Guy O’Donnell, Volunteer Director

Hi my name is Guy O’Donnell and I am the director of Get the Chance. In this short article our team share with you how vital Get the Chance is to them and their lives. If you can support our work, please donate at the link above.

Get the Chance is a social enterprise based in South Wales. We are Wales based with an international outlook. We work to create opportunities for a diverse range of people, to experience and respond to sport, art, culture and live events. We use our online magazine website as a platform to showcase our members activities. We provide a fantastic opportunity to develop cultural critical voices and ensure that people from certain groups of society, people that are often forgotten or unheard, are given a platform to share, review and discuss their lives and critique work in a public platform.

Not only have we supported conversations about the arts and culture in Wales, but we’ve also broken-down barriers and asked questions about who actually gets to critique art. It is this democratisation of criticism that is crucial to a healthy and thriving artistic community that listens to everyone. Thank you.

Gemma Treharne-Foose, Volunteer Director and Critic.

Hi, my name is Gemma Treharne-Foose. I’m a board member and volunteer with Get the Chance. We’re a community of volunteers, activists and enthusiasts dedicated to expanding the reach of arts, culture and sports in Wales. At Get the Chance, we exist to create a space and a platform for people to participate, engage in and respond to theatre, arts and culture. In particular, we help people who are perhaps traditionally hard to reach and support them to access and experience these spaces.

Part of the work we do with our community is to encourage and support them to build up their skills, responding to, vlogging about, and writing about their experiences accessing arts, theatre and culture, and also helping them access particular schemes and initiatives with partner organisations.

At the moment the arts and live event industries in Wales are hurting and they’re struggling right now as they try to access support and gain audiences in these uncertain times. I believe this is an arts emergency and I want part of my work with Get the Chance to support the industry to get back on its feet again and to get audiences enjoying live events and theatre again.

If you also want to support and highlight Welsh theatre, arts and culture then I’d encourage you to get involved. Let’s shine a light on the amazing work happening right now in Wales. The show must go on!

Barbara Michaels, Volunteer Critic.

As one of the most senior reviewers who has known Guy O’Donnell for many years, I can’t stress enough how important it is that Get the Chance continues to support the youngsters who want to become involved in the arts, many of them with the aim of a career in the media.

During the time over the years I’ve been reviewing, I’ve been really impressed by the young people who are coming up into the ranks, who have become very knowledgeable and very enthusiastic about their involvement with theatre. Unless we get some financial support, it’s going to be so difficult to continue with an organisation like Get the Chance which does so much good, giving opportunities to young people who wouldn’t have them.

With the cost of seeing the performances of opera and ballet and theatre rising, and inevitably it is going to rise more, it is absolutely vital that we have some support both financially and in all aspects of an organisation like Get the Chance. Thank you.

Kevin B Johnson, Volunteer Critic

Hi my name is Kevin, I work in an office, I like long walks on sunny beaches and I’m Sagittarius. Apart from that, I’m a member of Get the Chance because I like seeing new shows, new films and sharing them with other people, bringing my discoveries to others and getting a chance to view them. I like to highlight what I love about the shows that I’ve seen.

Becky Johnson, Volunteer Critic

Hi my name is Becky Johnson and I’m a member of Get the Chance. I’m actually a freelance dance artist based in Cardiff and I’m a member of Get the Chance alongside that. So with my practice I tend to create work, I tend to perform and I tend to teach, and a big part of me being an artist is making sure that I can see as much work as possible and then also understand the wider perspectives, on not only dance but also the arts in general and the things that are going on in our current climate and our local area.

So with having Get the Chance alongside of it, it allows me to access these different things and to get opportunities to see these, which I wouldn’t necessarily financially be able to do otherwise. Also, it allows me to have that time dedicated to just look at these things analytically and also just to really try and understand what is going on in what I’m watching and what I’m seeing, rather than just watching it and acknowledging what’s happening. Writing with Get the Chance gives me an opportunity to use my voice to promote the things that I really care about and things I’m passionate about, the things I think need to be highlighted, whether that’s something that’s problematic that I see in a show or something that I think’s wonderful that needs to be shown more of and we need to see more of.

Another opportunity that I’ve had recently which has been amazing is the opportunity to interview people that I’m very proud to have had the opportunity to speak to and to be able to give them a voice to speak about their platform and what they’re doing. This is really important to me as a lot of these issues are very important and very close to home and I think it’s something that without this platform I wouldn’t be able to do.

I’ve always loved writing, it’s something that I did always want to pursue but by being a member of Get the Chance I’ve been able to continue my writing in a way that’s still linked with my practice. It means that I can find the balance of both of these feeding each other. I’m really grateful for having this opportunity.

Leslie R Herman, Volunteer Critic

Get the Chance has been one of the ways I’ve been able to maintain a connection to the arts and culture in Wales. I’m writing this message from New York City. It is mid-August 2020. I’ve been unable to get back to Wales due to the Covid pandemic and the global lockdown. Not only am I really missing Wales, I’m missing connection, to people, to places and to the arts and culture that I’ve grown to love and live for – arts and culture that have helped me thrive throughout my life.

At the moment it really feels like we’re all of us spinning in our own orbits and cyberspace is our most vital tool but if that’s all we’ve got, I’m afraid it’s way too nebulous for me. I need to feel more grounded.

Get the Chance really has given me the opportunity to get grounded and to connect to people, to the arts, to culture. It’s given me the opportunity to mentor young people and it’s given me the opportunity to extend and rebuild my own career. What’s marvellous about get the chance is its open and flexible approach to giving people a chance to connect to culture. Why don’t you give Get the Chance a chance?

Beth Armstrong, Volunteer Critic

Hi! My name’s Beth. I’m 24, and I’m from Wrexham, North Wales, and I’m currently training to be a primary school teacher. I’m a member of Get the Chance because it allows me to watch a great range of theatre performances which I wouldn’t normally get to see due to financial reasons, and also allows me to see a really diverse range of different kinds of theatre which I think is great for expanding my knowledge and experience of theatre in general.

Having my work published online is a great opportunity for me because it allows me to have a wide audience for my writing, and it also allows me to engage with other reviewers and read their work as well, so it’s a really fantastic opportunity.

Samuel Longville, Volunteer Critic

When I left university, Get the Chance was a really amazing, creative outlet for me. I was able to see so much theatre for free which would have been really difficult at the time, having left university as a not very well-off student. I was working a quite tedious nine-to-five job at the time so Get the Chance really served as that kind of creative outlet for me, allowing me to see as much theatre as possible, and not only to see it but to think about it critically and write reviews about it. So it really let me utilise the things I’d learned on my drama course at university.

I’m soon to start an MA in Arts Management at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and I think, without Get the Chance, my enthusiasm possibly could have wavered over the past year, and I still may be stuck doing the same nine-to-five job that I was previously doing. So I really can’t thank Guy and Get the Chance enough for all the opportunities they gave me over the past year.

Helen Joy, Volunteer Critic

Hi! My name is Helen Joy, and I’m here to talk a little bit about my experiences with Guy O’Donnell and his extraordinary Get the Chance. I joined Get the Chance as a 3rd Act Critic when it started, which is a couple of years ago now, and I was a little less grey(!), and it has given me the most extraordinary opportunities that I would not have had the opportunity to take otherwise. For example, I was able to go to the Opera regularly, something I never thought I’d be able to do or that I would enjoy. I’ve been a keen follower of modern dance – ditto, never thought I’d do that – and it’s also given me the chance to really think about how I evaluate things.

So, for example, much more recently, I was given the chance to interview Marvin Thompson. I think this gave me one of the biggest challenges I’ve had for a long time. He, and the experience of planning and conducting an interview, and recording it visually and hourly on Zoom, made me really think about, not just how I wanted to react to him and to his work, but how I felt about it.

Often, I fall into a particular category: of the classic middle-aged, white, educated woman, where the opportunities are already ours, and we’re very lucky with that, but we’re also quite a silent group. People don’t really want to hear what we’ve got to say, which is why we tend to shout it from the rooftops I think; or why, equally, we disappear into the aisles of supermarket. This has given me and my colleagues tremendous opportunities to re-find our voices and to share them, to listen to what other generations have to say. It’s been a really important experience for me. Long may it continue. Thank you!

Barbara Hughes-Moore, Volunteer Critic.

My name is Barbara Hughes-Moore, and I recently completed my Doctorate in Law and Literature at Cardiff School of Law and Politics on Gothic Fiction and Criminal Law. So by day, I’m a scholar, a reviews editor, and a research assistant; and by night, I write longer retrospective pieces on film and television through a gothic and criminal lens on my personal blog.

I’m a member of Get the Chance because its mission is all about increasing the visibility of, and accessibility to, the arts for everyone. Since becoming a member, I have attended and reviewed numerous theatre productions at the Sherman Theatre, the New Theatre, and Chapter Arts Centre. I’ve been a featured speaker on the Sherman Theatre’s post-show panels. And, more recently, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing director Alison Hargreaves on her short film Camelot for the Uncertain Kingdom Anthology. Most importantly of all, Get the Chance has not only given me a voice – it has given me the space, the opportunity, and the confidence to use it.

Gareth Williams, Volunteer Critic

Hi! My name is Gareth. I am 29 years old and I live in North East Wales, and I’ve been asked to say why I’m a member of Get the Chance, and I want to answer by slightly rephrasing the question in order to say what Get the Chance means to me. And first of all, it means having the opportunity to respond to the arts in Wales; to contribute to the discussion around arts and culture in Wales; and to engage with various art forms.

To that end, it is an opportunity to support and promote artists and organisations, particularly those that I’m passionate about. So for me, that looks like theatre, particularly the work of Theatr Clwyd in Mold; music – I’m a fan of country music, and it’s great to be able to showcase Welsh country music talent on the Get the Chance website – and TV drama. Welsh TV drama is going through a bit of a golden age at the moment, and it’s great to be able to be a part of that as somebody who critically reviews these shows as a writer.

I’ve always been much better at writing than speaking. I’ve never been very good at expressing an opinion though because of low self-esteem and confidence. But being a member of Get the Chance has given me an opportunity to express an opinion. It’s increased my self-esteem and my confidence to speak about how I feel about the things that I see and watch and listen to and engage with. And I think, for me, that is the most important thing about being a member of Get the Chance: that opportunity to express an opinion which, a couple of years ago, I would not have had the confidence to do.

Sian Thomas, Volunteer Critic

Hi! My name is Sian. The main reason I joined Get the Chance is because I love reading and I’ve always loved reading, and I really like having a definitive place where I can put down my thoughts on any piece of media and see people respond in so many different ways, and even the authors of the books that I’ve reviewed responding in so many different ways as well. It’s really lovely to have that kind of freedom of expression and I really value being a member.

Amina Elmi, Volunteer Critic

I am a member of Get the Chance because it gives me a platform where I can speak my mind . It allows me to give my opinion and being able to do so enables me to explore the media, the news and whatever preferred genre or medium of entertainment I want.

When it was introduced to me I was into writing and that has helped shape what dreams and ideals I have while also keeping my writing skills at a solid, good level. I am fortunate to be a part of Get The Chance because it has given me opportunities that I would not have had otherwise.

Hannah Goslin, Volunteer Critic

I am a member of Get the Chance because theatre and the arts is what I eat, live and breath. To be able to connect with fellow performers, practitioners, critics and journalists is a wonderful chance to learn, be inspired and to network.

“An Empowering Narrative for what is usually, a very Disempowered History” An Interview with Lawrence Hoo.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Bristol based poet, Lawrence Hoo. It was a truly enlightening conversation and we discuss all things Race, Class and Education. You can find out more about his latest projects at or more about the Cargo project at @cargomovement on Instagram and social media. (Becky Johnson)

Read Part 1 below to see what he had to say:

Hi Lawrence, it’s lovely to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

Hi, my name is Lawrence. I live in Bristol, well I’ve lived in Bristol for almost my whole life, and I’m a poet.

I was born in Birmingham and grew up in mostly marginalised communities in Bristol. I spent a lot of my youth in and out of the care system. I went to 6 secondary schools and after that, I didn’t have any form of education. I was a feral kid on the street from the age of 6 and a runaway. When I was 19, I had cancer and I went through a bad stage of my life after that. I thought that the cancer was going to kill me anyway and I went back to living on the road.  And then at 30, I became a father for the first time. To be honest, it scared the living daylights out of me. But that’s about it vaguely.

I wanted to see if I could make myself a better person and make more of my life. So I went back and re-educated myself and began to teach others how to use computers. I did that for four years and got burned out. So, I started to do my poetry.

My poetry came from a place of rage and from questioning why the authorities were allowing situations to occur in these certain environments rather than in the rest of Britain. All the laws that need to protect people exist but for some reason the action isn’t being taken to enforce them.

 A point of that was when my partner was picking up our young son from nursery in Saint Pauls and she was approached. We then, campaigned against paedophiles being allowed to stay in the hostel which backs onto our nursery. It came out and we succeeded to make Bristol safer.

And that’s why I use poetry as a platform to try and make these changes happen.

I acknowledge that a lot of your previous work and ethos is grown around Bristol and the things that surround you there. I know that similarly to Tiger Bay in Cardiff, Bristol is going through a huge gentrification process. I was wondering on what not only your thoughts are on this but also what impact you have already seen from this?

I think is painful to see the gentrification. It goes back to those laws again., they hold all of these problems in communities.

In Saint Pauls there would be safe houses to protect those from people who have committed crimes as well as hostels for those who have committed crimes. There was drug rehabilitation centres and parole offices, but they were put next to the only place in Bristol, where you could legally sell drugs on the streets. They put the drug users next to the drug dealers, they put the people at risk from sexual crime next to those who have committed sexual crimes and they put prostitution on the streets by schools.

They took all of these issues and put them into an area which was where the African Caribbean communities are, so they often associate these problems with the African Caribbean communities. But, if we take things back to sherlock Holmes times, there were people smoking opium and he would investigate the murders of prostitutes. All these problems came along a long time before we came to Britain.

The children who are growing up in Saint Paul’s, because of the violence, lose their innocence way too young. That’s what I find heart-breaking. The way Saint Paul’s was policed (well actually I say policed but it was more so ‘contained the issues so they didn’t affect the other communities’) means the influence and protection of those other communities, is so different to what happens in Saint Paul’s.

Building prices are going up which is forcing working class people to move out of the areas which they grew up in. With Saint Paul’s it’s the council assets. The things that the working class need the most will be the first things to go. There’s no chance for people to come back into the communities they’re from. And with the services are removed, the communities become very affluent causing the communities to shift and there is nowhere for those that grew up there to live in the area.

So adding onto that, what do you think of the increase of students and the spreading of students away from Gloucester road and into Saint Paul’s? Is this bringing a positive impact, or is it doing the opposite and removing opportunities for those that are from the area?

It was always going to be a natural progression that Saint Paul’s was going to be reclaimed because of where it is located. It’s just an expansion of an affluent area but, at the same time, all it has done is push out the communities that was there before. It just benefits one community and marginalises another. It’s heart-breaking.

I’ve grown up there and lived there. It’s always been my safe spot. Regardless of all of the chaos of the city, if you’re from African Caribbean descent, it’s a safe place. It’s just devastating. Gentrification is devastating. I don’t see any positives from gentrification.

As a homeowner, gentrification has increased the value of my property. But there’s not much of my community left. I feel like a stranger. Some people say yeah but you can make money from it, but I’ve lost my home. I’ve got my house, but the community is my family. That whole family aspect of life is gone. My home is gone.

I don’t think people actually understand what it’s like to lose that familiarity, that security and that family. What it’s like when its gone.

The university of Bristol is such a huge entity in the city, and it needs to do more. I’m working with the university now, but I want to work with it to help collect the wider communities of the city and to support them. Everybody says black lives matter. But working-class people’s lives matter.

The whole city is classist.

Its problem the main issue of the city. There’s the golden circle for a mile around the city which makes a very affluent area. But one thing that’s very rare to hear in this area is a Bristolian accent. A lot of Bristolians are cast out of opportunities here. I believe it’s time for those big institutions to connect and to gather communities to raise their platforms with them. A part of Bristol is accelerating so quickly but it is leaving a huge part of Bristol behind.

So your latest project, the Cargo project, has recently received National lottery funding (congratulations). Why was the Cargo project initiated and how was it developed into the current version in which it sits?

In 2007 I did a collection called HOO stories. Which was a response to the abolition to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It was an opinionated set of poems that held a non-Eurocentric view. It was holding up a light to the actions of Europeans and gave a positive light to people of African descent, allowing it to be seen from an African-centric view. It pointed out people that had contributed greatly to society but who had pretty much been emitted from history.

Cargo was an extension of this. Looking at what people have been told has been done and then showing what has actually been done as well as looking at what you have actually done yourself. Cargo showed African resilience and African’s generating opportunities.

The beginning of the collection probably looks at the first 400-500 years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, when people were just classed as cargo. Covering that journey and how they were put in the conditions that made them in slaves as well as the achievements of those of African descent. It starts in Bristol and then goes into the slave trade, the Hacienda revolution, H Samuel Sharp, and the uprisings and then continues with those that fought against and contributed to civilisation. An empowering narrative for what is usually, a very disempowered history.

It was done because I live in Bristol and you cannot get away from Bristol’s history. Every building you look at is made from Bath stone which came from that industry. I live in a city that’s very painful to live in.  

As a young black man, I couldn’t get my head around the fact that men didn’t fight to defend their wives and children. I always thought, my people didn’t fight then but I can fight now. When I realised that they did fight and rebel, that changed for me. I thought that people were so dehumanised that they stopped seeing themselves as human and it breaks my heart. But then, you realise that they did fight and what happened to them, was crimes.

But they saw that evil, and they fought and fought and fought. I wanted my children to not grow up with the same anger that I had and that’s where the collection came from. I want to give the children of Britain the opportunity to not be me.

It started off as an installation as four different shipping containers on College Green (Bristol). The idea of using shipping containers removed the permissions needed to display this information e.g. the approval of museums and galleries. We didn’t want to have to prove that our work had value to other institutions. So that although there were permissions needed, it was a lot more flexible than the others.  But because of Covid-19, the idea of putting people in a confined space walking around stopped being possible.

Covid-19 took the installation and we thought, how do we keep this moving forward? How can we make it more digital? We wanted to give people accessibility to information. So we went forwards with the Classroom project. The installation although on hold, is still in process.

The Cargo Classroom project is so important and it’s brilliant that you’ve been able to kick off something as monumental as this. What do you believe is the next step to get this information into mainstream education?

We produce a product that they feel they can’t not use, that’s the first step. Making something that people want to use and then work towards getting that into the curriculum.

This is the crazy thing, for years, we’ve been pushing and pushing but because of what’s happened in the last 6 months, people have actually come looking for us. That has been a huge change. The most important thing for us to do, is to keep focussed on what we have already been doing and to not get involved in loads of things. This is what we were doing before we got national attention. We need to make sure we deliver what we set out to deliver before we then look at what the other opportunities are.

The funny thing is, I’m so excited for what were doing. The possibilities are insane. This is the right time, we have the right product and we have the willpower to push it.

The attention will soon fall off if people aren’t prepared to put the work in. What is happening currently isn’t new, we had a global black lives matter campaign 4 years ago. And literally, outside of America, in a few weeks, it had gone.

We don’t need huge numbers as long as we keep pushing the right buttons. The group who did the protest a few months ago are still going and are making sure its not going anywhere. This young group, I believe they’re going to keep it going and make some change, for real.

Here in Wales, where Get the Chance is based, there is a campaign calling for Black history to be taught to Welsh pupils in school which has received more than 30,000 signatures within days of it being set up,  educating pupils on subjects like British colonialism and slavery.

Whilst many ministers in government (both in Wales and England) acknowledge the need to shine a light on how colonisation has been glorified, why do you think the latest bill passed through parliament was rejected?

Through fear.

I think a lot of this information has been oppressed for so long that if too much of the information came out too quick, it would undermine the whole of the UK government. The whole industrial revolution was built off the back of Africans.

What is actually owed? People ask are there reparations for the past? The gains are still received today. Companies are still using Africa as a resource. They gave the countries back their independence and to the people they gave back their freedom, but it was only on the surface level that they gave it back. They didn’t give back the land or the wealth that was generated from the land. Africa is not just filled with Africans. There are huge debts to be paid.

How would the English pay off the compensation that is needed? They could give them their natural resources, and then the interest of anything earned off those resources, and then, maybe, Europe would need the aid and Africa doesn’t. The economic balance would collapse.

We need to teach people their worth, their value and what was truly stolen from them. Not only their names, identities and homes were taken but so was the ability to nourish themselves from their ancestral background.

They’re afraid to teach the history because what happened was absolutely appalling and everyone would see that. England played its part right through the trans-Atlantic slave trade to the South African apartheid in the 1990s… The 1990s.

There’s just a lot of fear. With the crimes that were committed, there’s a lot of responsibility. People think Africa contributed a lot less to society than it has because a lot of African history has been emitted. But over time the internet will allow people to get this information, which before would have been through privilege. This will add some truth to history. And European governments will have to be accountable for their actions.

In part two (coming soon) Lawrence discusses Change and what changes we need to see (and make) to make a fairer and more equal future for us all.

The Privilege Café and Me. Café Members Discuss their Membership.

In the article below a range of The Privilege Café members share how they first heard about The Café, why they attend, its importance in their lives and to wider society.

Hi Leena, can you give our readers some background information on yourself, please?

Of course, my name is Leena Sarah Farhat and I am the Diversity Officer for the Welsh Liberal Democrats as well as a candidate for the Senedd. I am 22 and have just finished a degree in Computer Science at Aberystwyth University. I am hoping to be a change-maker in Wales and beyond. 

 You have previously spoken at or attended The Privilege Café, The Café is advertised as a place to discuss all things privilege. For those who have not yet attended how would you best describe The Café and its work?

Privilege is a loaded word and is becoming superfluous. I would say that the Café is a space for people to try and unpack privilege through thematic lenses. Each week is a new topic and these topics are vehicles to come to conclusions on privilege. I would urge everyone to join the chat because there will be a topic for you.

How did you first learn about The Café and why do you attend?

I saw it on Twitter! I followed Mymuna Soleman (The Director of The Privilege Café) already and I had watched her and many others get frustrated with ethnic minority discourse in Wales as well as people not understanding privilege. I related to that as a young woman who is a minority ethnic and in fields where people like me are hard to find. You can feel really isolated and like you are screaming into the void. I also recognized my privilege, being lucky to be educated as well as sit on Boards. I wanted to play my part to use my privilege to elevate others and see them succeed and so I went to the first-ever one and was hooked!

Is there a specific Café that stays with you and why?

I think the one that I was lucky enough to speak on. We tackled the topic of Whiteness and Welshness. I was so used to being the only person in a room who would think about this topic so it was surreal having a range of other people who shared my experiences. For a second, I felt a bit less alone in Welsh public life. I learned a lot for the other speakers and have implemented it into the work I do.

It’s evident that the work of The Café is hugely important, how would you like the work of The Café to develop?

I would love to hold the Café both in physical locations and online events. I would love to see Mymuna host discussions far and wide, she is an absolute powerhouse and she has brought us together to make change. We have to do that together and everywhere.

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

Sure, my name is Henry Field, I’m a recruitment manager and have been in the sector just shy of 7 years.

 You have previously spoken at and attended The Privilege Café, The Café is advertised as a place to discuss all things privilege. For those who have not yet attended how would you best describe The Café and its work?

The Privilege Café is the education around issues faced by, and a platform and voice for Black, Asian and Majority Ethnic people that has been needed for a very long time. It’s a place where BAME community members can feel safe in sharing their experiences, where speakers from different sectors can share knowledge and where we can start to break down barriers and build new foundations for relationships moving forward.

How did you first learn about The Café and why do you attend?

I was a speaker at my first Café, I saw they were asking for recruiters in Cardiff to get involved and speak about bias and how to stand out as an applicant. I attended because I thought I was aware of the issues faced by black professionals getting jobs. I was wrong. Although I was aware of unconscious bias, and able to provide a recruitment service that was inclusive – I had no idea about how big the issue is in Cardiff alone, especially for people living in Butetown and Grangetown.

I was one of 3-4 panel members, with differing views on how we can ensure opportunities are being given where possible. It was Wasim Said from TigerBayABC that asked the question that has stuck with me. “Recruiters and companies will come to these things regularly, especially our recruitment events held in community hubs. You come in, you speak to a few people, you get your pictures for LinkedIn and your website – Then we hear nothing else, Few end up with interviews and less end up with jobs – How are you going to be any different?”

That question had an effect on me I don’t think Wasim realises. He was absolutely right of course, I thought I was just going to be a speaker, share my knowledge and be on my way. It was on that call I made the conscious decision to attend all sessions that I could, including those that as a recruiter, I didn’t think were ‘Relevant’ to my role. After a couple of sessions learning more about the lack of education around history involving black communities in Wales and the issues still faced with racism in the police force in the UK,I realised just how little I knew, and how different my life experience and opportunities have been to people living so close to me. I really understood what privilege felt like.

A bit of a long answer, but I attend because of that. I want to learn, and be a positive ally.

Is there a specific Café that stays with you and why?

Other than the one I spoke at, for the reasons above, the café that sticks with me most was the one around policing within the UK. Hearing how black children need to be warned to always leave the shop with a receipt, always turn out their own pockets when being searched, always make sure they smile at police officers as they walk by – This is information I have never needed to be given. As a white man, If I have the choice not to print a receipt at self-service, I don’t because I feel I’m saving paper, I’ve never been stopped – I never considered such a small action could cause trouble for someone with darker skin. I’ve only ever been searched once in an airport, and that was because me and my partner were at the back of the queue and I think they had to just pick someone. Again, this café made me realise what a privileged life I have.

It’s evident that the work of The Café is hugely important, how would you like the work of The Café to develop?

It probably comes as no surprise that my response here will be recruitment related. I would like to see enough HR professionals, and enough business involved to be able to put on a careers fair different to previous. I would like to see a careers fair attended by decision makers and hiring managers that, as long as the skillset is there, interviews can take place on the spot in another room and real action can be taken to improve the opportunities available to BAME communities.

 Thanks for your time

Thank you for the opportunity to share.

Naila Missous

You have previously spoken at or attended The Privilege Café, The Café is advertised as a place to discuss all things privilege. For those who have not yet attended how would you best describe The Café and its work? 

I would describe the space as a hub of learning, relearning and application. The discussions had are not empty discussions; but rather, calls to action. Many things have come out of The Café, including courses that members are offering, Patreon support and for myself personally; making connections with other attendees so that we can work together on anti-racism and global citizenship workshops in education. It is also very Wales based, which is great as someone who lives in England as it has been an extra step in my learning. 

How did you first learn about The Café and why do you attend?

I first learned about The Café on Twitter, when there was a call out for a speaker with a Linguistics background for one of the earlier sessions. I tweeted by interest, and have been attending ever since as both a speaker, and also listener. 

Is there a specific Café that stays with you and why?

I have enjoyed all sessions, as mentioned above, each session is a learning journey. I in particular enjoyed the session entitled, “Guilty before Birth” about those in the prison system; as it was a topic I was not well versed on yet learned so much.

I also enjoyed the “Labels, Language and Linguistics” as this was the first session I ever attended, as well as my first attendance as a speaker. I was unsure as to what to expect as a speaker, given that I am passionate about this subject. The feedback has and still is amazing, and I am forever grateful to the members of the cafe who are supportive, open and always willing to better themselves.

It’s evident that the work of The Café is hugely important, how would you like the work of The Café to develop? 

It would be great to create connections and sub cafes across the UK.

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

My name is Claire Vaughan, I’m originally from Tintagel in Cornwall and spent time living in the USA, but have lived in Wales for many years. I moved to Cardiff nearly 20yrs ago and worked in various jobs (including call centres, accountancy and a youth hostel) before joining Chapter Arts Centre in 2005. In 2012 I joined the Cinema department doing talks and organising events and became the Programme Manager for Cinema in 2018. In 2018 I began the Shift Cardiff Research and Development Art Space in the Capitol Centre with Jon Ruddick and Pria Borg-Marks which gives space for artists time to work and develop their practice with us. I am a White, cis, Queer woman who lives in Grangetown with my partner and my cat and I have three nieces – two who live in Wales, one living in Germany. I don’t come from a rich background – my mum was a cleaner, my Dad was a carpenter and they really struggled financially at times, but I was incredibly lucky to live at a time when education and travel was easier and so in many ways I am incredibly privileged. 

 You have previously spoken at or attended The Privilege Café, The Café is advertised as a place to discuss all things privilege. For those who have not yet attended how would you best describe The Café and its work?

Attending The Privilege Café is like being at a big, welcoming community centre where you come to listen to discussions about the world we live in where the conversation is being directed by Black and Non-Black women of Colour. The topics are timely but also cover all kinds of aspects of life – from Mental and Physical Health, national identity, History and Culture. Everyone is expected to come with an open mind and an open heart so we can learn from each other and try and make our world somewhere everyone can thrive no matter what their background or colour of their skin. As a White person entering this space you might get to consider perspectives that you’re not used to hearing, so it can be challenging but really educational and illuminating. The people who are invited to speak at The Café feel safe enough to be really honest, so you may hear stories that shock you and make you question your own behaviour – have you considered these experiences in this detail before? As White people the level of racism in our society can be difficult to grasp, as we don’t deal with the relentless experience of being judged by society every time we step out of our door. Similarly, hearing from White people is useful – how do we feel about these discussions and how do we find it difficult to help? The people speaking at The Café are offering up their real lived experiences and research to help us come to terms with how our society works so it’s important to respect and feel gratitude that they are giving up their time so we can all work on this together. Even those of us who have experienced really difficult times have some things to be grateful for, some level of privilege. Attending the Café and hearing from all kinds of people makes us more mindful of that. 

How did you first learn about The Café and why do you attend?

Theatre practitioner Catherine Paskell set up a wonderful discussion early in Lockdown to discuss inequality in the Arts in Wales and I met Mymuna through that. She heard people talking about the issues and thought it would be good to have a follow up discussion on White Privilege since it seemed to be not very well understood. Mymuna doesn’t have an Arts background so I probably wouldn’t have come across her work otherwise as the majority of people I meet are through the Arts these days. I found my thinking being challenged really useful. It reminded me of the discussions we had in the Imagination Symposium with Gentle / Radical and the warmth of the BME Woman’s Club. In the past couple of years I’ve met the fantastic Keith Murrell (Cardiff Bay Carnival); Yvonne Connicke (Cinema Golau), Kyle Legall through Cardiff Animation Festival; Yasmin Begum (whose encyclopedic knowledge always blows me away) – I’m kind of taken aback that I’ve only become aware of the work of some of these wonderful people in the past few years, it demonstrates how segregated the Arts is here in Wales.

It isn’t enough to say that groups of people are ‘hard to reach’, there is a whole load of exciting work going on getting almost no exposure or funding. We need to work on addressing that. But I don’t attend because of work, I think everyone, no matter what your background or interest has something to learn. It’s up to all of us to make this world better, it’s something I really believe in. 

Is there a specific Café that stays with you and why?

I think the story is that effected me most deeply was in one of the first sessions. One of the speakers, a Black Science academic was talking about her first day at University and how she was sat in the lecture hall and no-one came and sat with her, no one tried to befriend her. It stopped me in my tracks because I remember those days so well and how nervous you feel in that situation and I don’t know if at 18 I’d have behaved any differently. I think you seek out people who look like you when you’re new to something and nervous, which was easy enough for me at that age because there were plenty of White women in my lecture room. That simple moment of sharing something painful helped her talk to others about similar experiences and I got a chance to reflect on this and be more mindful of how I am in social situations. It stung, it made me ashamed because it made me consider my unconscious bias but also spurred me on to make sure that I attended as many of the sessions as possible because everyone had a story that made me think differently. 

It’s evident that the work of The Café is hugely important, how would you like the work of The Café to develop? 

The knowledge passed on by Abu-Bakr Madden Al-Shabazz every week when he talks about the history of Black and Non-Black People of Colour around the world is essential, I’m really glad that he’s started a Patreon ( so we can have a history lesson that covers something other than the World Wars, which is all I remember being taught. 

Abu-Bakr Madden Al-Shabazz, Image credit Mahammadien Eshak

I am also glad that Mymuna has started a Patreon ( because I would like to see her and her speakers invested in by the community. We need to tackle the crisis in funding for public good in the UK (including the Arts and Education) but progress can be slow and people need money to help plan and create now, not in 5 years, so alternative funding is important to donate to. I would like to see publicly funded organisations and councils around Wales to support these initiatives, so it’s not just spread by word-of-mouth in the capital because these aren’t just issues in Cardiff. As a country we are becoming more confident and we need to press on with progressive ideas to help create a better, more inclusive country. More forums where people can talk about their experiences and ideas in every part of the country from all kinds of backgrounds, from rural areas, towns and cities, is needed so we can build up a better future. Wales has welcomed me and I wasn’t born here, it is upsetting to see Black and Non Black Welsh People of Colour not given similar opportunities. Mymuna has made a huge investment in all of us, an investment in hope, by starting The Privilege Cafe. I want Wales to live up to her belief in us. 

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

My name is Dafydd Trystan. I work in Higher Education in Wales for the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol. I live in Grangetown and I’m active in my local community. I chair governors at Ysgol Hamadryad the local Welsh medium school for Grangetown and Butetown, the most multi-lingual multi-ethnic Welsh school ever!

You have previously spoken at or attended The Privilege Café, The Café is advertised as a place to discuss all things privilege. For those who have not yet attended how would you best describe The Café and its work?

A real opportunity to listen and learn about some of the issues facing society today – in a supportive space.

How did you first learn about The Café and why do you attend?

I think I saw it first on Mymuna’s Twitter feed. I’ve seen some of Mymuna’s work before and its very impressive so I thought I’d go along. There were some topics that were / are of particular interest e.g. Do You Have to be White to be Welsh?

Is there a specific Café that stays with you and why?

Probably the one I mentioned on Welshness and Whiteness. It made me 100% convinced that we needed to do far more to ensure that Welsh speaking spaces are genuinely welcoming and open to all – and we’re not there yet. Following on from The Café, a group of us who spoke got together at Tafwyl and have subsequently presented to a Welsh Government strategy group.

It’s evident that the work of The Café is hugely important, how would you like the work of The Café to develop? 

Carry on as it is – but probably needs some more organisational structure to ensure that the excellent conversations can build into action

Thanks for your time

Rhiannon Barrar

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

I have attended The Privilege Café many times. I have never spoken but sometimes have contributed to the chat.

You have previously spoken at or attended The Privilege Café, The Café is advertised as a place to discuss all things privilege. For those who have not yet attended how would you best describe The Café and its work?

I would describe The Privilege Café as a place where  minoritized groups can safely talk about what it is like living in a world of white privilege and what changes in society must take place to eradicate racism.  It has been a place to learn about Black history (and not just slavery).  It is a place where white people can listen and learn and investigate their own sub conscious racism and how our system accepts being white as the norm and how they can use their white privilege to support minoritized groups achieve the eradication of racism.

How did you first learn about The Café and why do you attend?

I first learned about The Privilege Café on Twitter when I saw the very provocative title ‘ Does Welshness mean Whiteness.  Ydych chi’n gallu siarad Cymraeg’.  In the context of the murder of George Floyd, I found this title provocative and it made me question my own attitudes.  It never occurred to me that being Welsh and Welsh speaking could be equated with whiteness.  I had just never thought about the experience of being Welsh and Black for example.  This session was very hard hitting and very challenging to me personally.   It was like a road to Damascus.

Is there a specific Café that stays with you and why?

I am eternally grateful to Mymuna for setting up this forum.  It is a revelation and an education.  Everyone should attend.  It challenges you to find a way to do something about racism.  Although each session is very well attended and a wide range of ethnicities, I think the challenge is to reach out to socially deprived areas of the country.  Many of the speakers  are successful professionals.  What about reaching out to the unemployed and homeless for example?

It’s evident that the work of The Café is hugely important, how would you like the work of The Café to develop? 

It would be good to explore the origins of racism from a scientific point of view. Where has this idea of race come from?  I am reading ‘Superior – The Return of Race Science’ by Angela Saini which explores this question.

The Invisible Ones Are The Influencers For Those Who Are Always Visible. An Interview with Ffion Campbell-Davies

I had the pleasure of interviewing Multi-disciplinary artist Ffion Campbell-Davies recently. In this interview we will be talking all things arts, creativity, Identity and Wales.

Credit Vikki Marie Page

Hi Ffion, it’s lovely to meet you and to get the opportunity to pick your brains. So just to introduce yourself to our readers, please can you give them some background on yourself and how you define yourself as an artist?

I was born and raised in Wales and moved to study at London School Of Contemporary Dance, graduating in 2013. I have since worked in various avenues within the industry as performer, teacher and choreographer. Over the last 5 years I have been developing my own artistic practice and creating my own work as well as collaborating with other artists.

I term myself as a multidisciplinary artist as a few of my disciplines other than dance are at the core of my work. My self produced work cross pollinates with music production, text, voice, expressionism, exhibitionsim, dramaturgical principles and [more recently] visual & digital art.

Credit Celine Fortenbaucher

I am a co-founding member of all female company collective House Of Absolute; we are a diverse group of multidisciplinary females creating boundary crossing, politically active theatre, sight specific and digital movement, sound & visual works collectively and independently.

My work explores themes and subjects around psychoanalysis, gender, race and spirituality, working with experimental devices and the influence of ritual to dismantle conditions around definition, power and politics.

So moving to London from Wales to gain better opportunities in the arts seems like a common trend among young people. Why do you think that is and what can we do here in Wales to change that?

I believe Wales has a lot of resources within its artistic demographic, with multiple communities of various levels and spheres of skill and knowledge. I recognise that infrastructures have excluded and disabled social mobility for many communities in being able to exercise and contribute to the collective central culture of arts in Wales.

There are many conditions which are similar in all cities here in the UK, but I believe London has an effective fluency in generating micro economies for artists to exercise and contribute to the collective culture. There seems to generally be more structures in place for diverse sources of funding to support varying different artistic communities, where sub cultures are actually at the core of reinforcing and empowering the collective. Because of this naturally people of any socio economic background have more of an access point to engage in the artistic climate, with more spread for opportunity and information to be easily accessed.

It is difficult for communities/artists outside of the capital culture [in regards to Wales; the traditional welsh cultural agenda] to be part of the solution of development and empowerment when many organisations of funding, or spaces of information and power are gated for exclusive representatives.

I see diversity as a fertiliser for soil, just the same way varying different types of stimuli rapidly develop the neural connectors in our brain, we need constant interaction with varying different human beings of different traditions, sciences, arts and practices to fuel innovation. This is something London taps into very well, in which I believe people from all over the world are drawn to.

Traditions are never lost and I believe Wales has a wonderful opportunity to find synergy with its ancient history and the fertility of its vastly diverse origins to energise and activate all representatives in wales of all different cultural backgrounds to cross pollinate.

As you have mentioned whilst in London, you’ve been a member of the company ‘House of Absolute’ which combines various street styles alongside other styles of movement. How has Hip-Hop culture helped to develop you as a Contemporary artist?

Hip-Hop has been at the axis of my growth and development. It is one of the most iconic symbols for the term ‘contemporary’ quite literally it is with the times. Hip-Hop is not only a ‘style’ but also a culture and even a philosophy with which most people involved would say it is a way of life. Hip-Hop is a mode of resistance, a political instrument for reconstruction. It is one of the most influential cultures on the planet, because of its wealth of knowledge and teachings through trans-generational art, it is legacy.

It is a cultural library archive of the preservation of people of the diaspora, which houses many different languages of the body, many trans-migrational stories of the intersectionality between races and cultures, and serves as a global home for people of any origin to communicate through mind body and spirit.

Of recent years Hip-Hop ‘theatre’ has emerged as another form of innovation to supplement indoctrinated Eurocentric modalities of black box performative culture. The marriage of visual art, story telling, acting, poetry, immersive engagement, grime music and the genius of Hip-Hop movement language and musicality. This has had a great impact on transforming my perception of using theatre space as ritual, broadcasting cultural and ancestral presence.

Overall my support and mentorship has come from;
Dance communities and peers in the underground Hip-Hop scene,
Artist4Artist an organisation run by artists for artists 
Founding members and representatives of Sadler’s Wells Breaking Convention festival. 

Growing up in Cardiff, do you think there is a significant Hip-Hop scene here and what do you think can be done to help it evolve?

There is definitely a Hip-Hop scene in Cardiff, however maybe lacking a cohesive integration of the multiple layers and dimensions of inclusivity. It is important for artists of all practices, sectors, class and culture to be in dialogue.

For examples different Hip-Hop music and visual artists, writers, poets, event organisers, venues and dancers could have more consistent relations with each other. If there aren’t visible invites and hubs/centres for representation, cultural information remains fragmented, and the overall culture cannot develop infrastructures for impact. Funding is also at the core of this.

Credit Vikki Marie Page

I understand that a lot of your work uses Identity as a concept. When in WHO (2017), you said “#TheSystem and #Society do not provide space for authentic self”, what did you mean by that and do you still find it relevant today?

I do believe society has had a long term relationship with resistance to change, and the notion that homogeny is safe, difference is threat. I recognise the culture of duality that has been at play for a long while, and that at present we may be realising as a collective society in our need for each other, dependence and preservation as a whole, which is the acknowledgement of polarity and the active inclusion for unity.

We still seem to have many protected and guarded infrastructures which dictate our attention towards fundamentalism, with which any organically evolving contemporary innovations outside of societally validated constructs are met with fear, discomfort and rejection, unless it is something recognised and originated within elitist culture.

So to draw from these concepts and bring it into the personal sphere, I believe we as individuals have the capacity to re invent ourselves any way we choose, but at the cost of being questioned and challenged constantly by those who are still existing within societal constructs.

On the one side, anything foreign to those constructs causes great discomfort, essentially the unknown, an anomaly to which we feel out of depth with our relatability. On the other side there is fatigue; being misunderstood, misrepresented, displaced, excluded, silenced, ignored, isolated and questioned. For many that is a lived experience that is still happening today. I think these polarities exist everywhere because it is essentially to do with consciousness and perception.

I feel lots of things have become cataclysmic in our society of recent. People are really fighting for spaces to empower authenticity and difference. Actually pioneering companies and representatives look to bespoke and eclectic minority individuals for inspiration and influence. The invisible ones are the influencers for those who are always visible. For example if we’re talking about fashion and media, it’s everyday people who inspire and influence those making decisions on top about what gets modelled and represented.  

I still believe there are conditions we are pressured to obtain in the broader mainstream culture which restrict us, only validating and respecting things we are a custom too, things we are told and taught have value, anything outside of that does not posess the same power.   Things we do not understand, we do not like or we do not feel comfortable with we disregard. But authenticity, originality and honesty is so powerful, in the overall context of polarity, we as a society now are recognising we need these attributes, and we are seeing willingness for difficult and uncomfortable conversations in the wider culture.

In my perspective for the majority there’s still a lot of shame, fear and taboo around self expression, and this is what makes art so evocative. When many people feel the fear of judgment, they look to artists who do and say all the things most people are terrified to do, there is this sacred unspoken empathic emancipation shared between artist and audience.  

You also spoke about the concept of ‘Mind, Body and Spirit coming together at a meeting point’ in an interview with Catch the Vibes last year. How does this psycho analysis come into the process of your making? Be that your movement or your other creative outlets?

It is particularly through the lens of dramaturgy that I get the opportunity through my work to investigate psychology. I often find that for performative works to have concrete coherence in how the work is experienced, there needs to be psychological integrity, either between the relationship of the performance and audience, or also the chronology of the work, and what the work is doing, what role it serves as an experience.

Quite often I have a focal drive to want to evoke and impact the audience in some kind of interpersonal way. In order to do that safely I really do need to understand the effect on myself of what I’m experiencing. The effect of the process, what psychological journey am I undergoing just to create the work, and then from that process constructing an infrastructure that allows me to guide the viewer into the areas of enquiry that exist in the work.

I work with all layers; the visual, the audible, the sensory, the intellectual, to find different ways of inviting my audience into the non verbal conversation between spectating, listening and actively responding. Regardless of how big or small those social queues are, we all feel it when an audience collectively holds their breath at a certain point, sometimes its the silence that communicates consent, or the twitch or cough coming from the upper left auditorium, we know that particular person just non verbally objected ‘subconsciously’.

If it’s an immersive work, there are other dimensions at play, with proximity being a massive psychological conversation. There is our body language and our power dynamics; whether an audience member sits on the floor cross legged, or stands right behind me, we have varying different capacities of what access points we have to a psychological dialogue. And then I wonder which way can I communicate this performance. Of course eye contact and touch being the most dynamic contributions. 

All of these elements play a vital role in my process, and its why ritual is such a pivotal instrument for creation in my work. Ritual allows the mental/psychological space to be more transient, meaning I can access the collective mental space with the openness and safety of a held experience set by intentions. This naturally propels the willingness of an audience to be vulnerable with me in the conversation, allowing for suppleness and great changes to occur in perception.

Performance work is always a conversation for me, it’s not about interrogating my own psychology to create work, it is about really understanding psychology to execute distinct forms of communication between my work and the audience. To do that effectively I need to understand a great deal of my own psychology. I feel that’s where the freedom to shift perception and rewrite history comes from, the game changers who change the world through art.      

Credit Vikki Marie Page

How has lockdown affected you as an artist? And also what long term effects, do you see Covid-19, having on your artistic practise?

Covid has given me the opportunity to redefine my priorities, values, boundaries and reinforce my principles. I have had to question my purpose beyond the industry, and become aware of areas that I have not developed and the areas which I have neglected in myself.

This time has also allowed me to rediscover a new way of living, a new way of working and a new way of communicating. I have had many moments of exhaustion, overwhelming bewilderment and uncertainty, but none of these feelings are new to me, in fact the last two years have been so groundbreaking’ly challenging that lockdown was like a breeze. The political and economic climate however has had a great impact on my perception of reality and my stability within that. But it’s the sense of community that has become more evident during this time for me, with a beautiful anchoring in the various relationships I have with people that have grown deeper and stronger during this time.  

Following on from that actually, how has lockdown affected you personally? I recognise that we often separate performers from people and that needs to be raised.

Lockdown has allowed me to journey inwards with a great deal of introspection and time to reconstruct myself from the core. These are elements I do practice, however there is never usually time to really uncover the uncomfortable subconscious patterns that need redefining, when I am moving from one project to another with usually no recovery time.

Although challenging, I have been able to sit with myself and confront difficult things and rewrite those narratives.
I have also been able to connect with people I would have never usually connected with prior to Covid, simply because online networking is far more direct and immediate. Fundamentally I have been able to slow down and have moments of stillness and solitude, amongst the chaos.

I’m a big fan of the ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ podcast and something they do on each episode is ask their guest “If they were in government as an advisor for their specialist field, what would be the first change that they would make?”
So I’d like to ask you, if you were an advisor/ representative for the Arts sector, what would be the first change that you would make?

I would want to change the ‘perceived’ division between economy, finance and the arts. I believe so many fundamental movements within history and society sit on a large library of knowledge in strategy, financial infrastructures, economic preservation, assimilation as well as generational business modes that support successful agendas in all industries.

Often even the simplest areas for accessing training in these fields are seen so far removed from the arts. Educational models are often attuned to industries regarded superior, operating purely from strategic principles within business sectors.

We as artists have major blind spots because of the lack of accessibility to especially tailored training schemes, courses, workshops that provide tools within understanding the financial politics of the arts and its economy. We are unhealthily dependant and unempowered to a degree with previous models such as Arts Council funding applications being the main and only doorway for many. Yet this cannot guarantee long term support and struggles to give artists/companies/organisations stabilised independent agency over their future careers. I’m sure at some point in time we have all witnessed the impact of funding cuts for companies/artists, resulting in the immediate amputation of their capacity. Funding has already been challenging particularly for individuals outside of certain socioeconomic class groups and artists who haven’t had the opportunity to generate credibility with sponsors or funding audiences. Many artists with an excellent capacity are unable to generate work at the rate of their potential. This is debilitating and capping our capacity for genius as an overall industry, only select few names get to exercise their worth. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can say a great deal of artists do not get the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding on modes of financial strategy in relation to the artistic climate.

I’m not saying we all as artists need to study business and finance, because often all of that knowledge is difficult to contextualise in specific relations to the neurodiversity of an artist and the unprecedented lifestyle that an artist might live. But what I am aware of is the benefit of having specialists within business, economy and finance working with artistic representatives to establish an access point hub for freelance artists/organisations and younger generations educated to equip themselves with the knowledge and tools to create financial and economic engagement, allowing agency and fluidity within their artistic career.

We as artists promote ourself like business products, we sell ourselves through business models, but if we are to now look at the future of the arts industry, the greater economy an it’s impact on the rest of the world we need to be equipped with the tools to know how to adapt, preserve and not only survive but thrive as artists. I do feel such aspects should be addressed and mandatory within the training of an artist, not just be trained on how to become an artist.

In order to create powerful art that actually has long lasting impacts on humanity and society in the evolution and rewiring of the human conscious, we need money, and we should be educated about how we can generate that independently.
We see the value in funding science, it shouldn’t be any different for the arts.

So to conclude, Is there anything that you’re currently working on or anything that you’d like to highlight/ share with our readers?

I’ve been refining and redefining the development of my personal practice, which has felt like a monster to tackle as I exist in multiple sphere’s of discipline. Looking at the intersectionality of where a process begins and ends and where meeting points bridge between one discipline to another within the practice. How voice informs the body and vice versa, and also how multiple forms of conditioning/training practices converse/overlap or contradict within the body. What technique do I hold onto and what do I let go of.

In the productivity of what I’m currently working on is a body of work that holds both my music identity and my visual art and movement identity. I’m generating a portfolio which involves self produced songs with the layers and the depth that I would usually engage with in my conceptual theatre work. Looking at how I can make my approach to music production more performative, and have my body as equally a visible voice as my lyrics and my singing. I’m wanting to use the medium of music and song composition to speak on behalf of things I would usually devise and create dance theatre. I want to present narratives both through live art and digital where the boundaries and cultures blur between music gig and dance theatre. I will be supported by Kaunstrum Gallery to create and present an exert in the autumn.

Aside from that I am collaborating with musician Soweto Kinch for a conceptual music video, and composing/producing/researching with Isaac Ouro-Gnao and Tyrone Isaac Stuart for a production called the Oreo Complex.

Thank you ever so much for your time Ffion, it’s truly been a pleasure talking to you.