Creating a New Wales

Article excerpt

The way in which the arts regenerate rural areas, communities and individuals will be highlighted during the Arts Council of Wales' annual conference. We look at some of those who have benefited

Community Regeneration: Galeri, Caernarfon

BUILDING the new Galeri arts centre in Caernarfon has had a far-reaching effect - not only on the arts scene in the area but on the actual regeneration of the wider community.

Open for more than two years, Galeri has provided the area with a focus on arts-based organisations as well as giving the town a venue for the performing arts and cinema.

In addition to this, Galeri is a community resource which has allowed projects to flourish and develop.

Galeri artistic director, Elen ap Robert, said, "Participating in the arts can be a catalyst for developing the creative potential of people, providing them with transferable skills and raising their self-confidence."

Galeri's own community arts project Sbarc! has pulled in more than 200 young people from a variety of backgrounds, including a high proportion of young people from the town's two Community First areas (disadvantaged communities) to take part in arts-based activities and performances. As such it can be seen as promoting social cohesion and integration.

At the other end of the age spectrum, Galeri has put on a series of afternoon concerts catering for residents and staff of care and nursing homes for the elderly.

Galeri has developed creative partnerships with several organisations to undertake work with families with disabled children, animation workshops with special needs children and with children excluded from mainstream education.

One of the animation films undertaken with children from Uned Brynffynnon in Felinheli - pupils with behavioural problems excluded from mainstream education - won a Golden Pixel Award, which rewards the best in multi-media design from individuals, community groups and professionals.

Rural Regeneration: Helfa Gelf - The Exhibition Expedition

HELFA Gelf is a community association which aims to develop participation in the arts and increase awareness of the arts.

It mainly does this through an "open studios" event and an education programme for all ages.

Many artists are based in remote locations, with few opportunities for presenting their work to the wider community.

The Helfa Gelf project has started the important process of overcoming problems of isolation by introducing the public to a previously invisible network of artist and makers.

The organisation promotes artists living in rural areas so people know they exist and can go and visit their studios.

One artist from the Conwy area, who works under the name Gwdihw, said, "As one of the artists involved, it was a great experience for me and the people who came to my studio.

"Not only did I enjoy meeting my visitors but I felt extremely stimulated by visiting the studio of other artists I did not even know existed.

"Helfa Gelf promoted intercultural exchange, stimulated tourism and cultural appreciation."

Rhian Haf, arts development officer for the Arts Council of Wales, has supported the development of Helfa Gelf.

She said, "It's been a fantastic success in promoting art and artists in North Wales.

"It has generated interest in, and income for, the arts in Wales; fostered personal contacts between artists and the general public and dispelled myths and forged community links. …