Arts & Business Cymru’s Chief Executive Rachel Jones introduces the company as it attempts to bringing business and the arts together in partnerships of mutual benefit.
It is hard to believe that three years have gone by since Arts & Business (A&B) Cymru took the bold and extremely daunting step to go it alone. So much has happened since we de-merged from the long established A&B UK and became a small Welsh charity.
For those who haven’t come across us before, A&B Cymru is the specialist in bringing business and the arts together in partnerships of mutual benefit. The team of nine work from offices in Cardiff and Llandudno to deliver unique services and programmes to a diverse range of people and organisations across the whole of Wales.
Our arts members range from individual practitioners to national organisations. Our work with them involves focus on two main areas – developing income and developing skills. In short, we aim to put each member in the strongest possible position to survive and thrive.
We have faced many significant challenges and I am extremely proud of everything our small team has achieved in those three short years. We have reached our highest ever number of business and arts members, delivered eighty training courses to 700 arts managers, devised innovative new initiatives such as the Creative Internships Programme which is training the next generation of arts fundraisers, and enabled 130 specialist business managers to transfer their skills and expertise directly to arts organisations while gaining unique development opportunities themselves. We have also levered almost £2 million from business directly into the arts.
That is despite experiencing a 55% funding cut in our first year of independence! While it felt like the beginning of the end when it happened, we rose to the challenge and put into action the message we have been giving the arts for many years – that achieving a true diversity of income is the only way to be sustainable.
I am delighted to say that we have transformed the way we are funded by increasing the money earned from business, selling more training courses and securing significant investment from Trusts & Foundations.
In May this year, we re-introduced the CultureStep programme, thanks to funding from The Moondance Foundation. One of our most successful initiatives, the programme invests cash in business / arts partnerships to strengthen and sustain them. The resulting projects engage disadvantaged groups, demonstrate commitment to environmental issues, and aid health and wellbeing. CultureStep has already helped to secure more than £143K of business investment into 17 projects, levering over £4 for every £1 of Trust funding. We were also delighted to recently secure further funding from the Jane Hodge Foundation, allowing us to support even more creative partnerships.
Another of our exciting developments this year has been the expansion of our popular Art @ the Senedd series, which was first launched in 2000. The new initiative, Art @, stages performances in a range of unusual venues across Wales, making the arts truly accessible to all. We’ve already held special events in Cardiff Airport and Bay Studios, Swansea and an exciting series is now being planned for 2015.
These are just a few examples of our continued ambition and commitment to growth. We are celebrating everything that we have achieved so far with a jam-packed schedule of activity and events and we are looking firmly to the future. In the current difficult climate, the arts has never needed our help more. We will continue to work hard to provide relevant and useful training and development programmes, focussed showcasing opportunities and a high-level brokerage service which will help to strengthen our vital creative sector across the country.
Below is just a summary of the CultureStep Projects we have facilitated with our arts and business partners during 2014.
All CultureStep projects must address at least one of the following priorities:
• Arts & Kids: engaging socially disadvantaged young people with the arts, making a tangible difference to the lives of some of the hardest to reach young people in Wales.
• Arts & Older People: engaging vulnerable and disadvantaged older people with the arts, making a positive difference to their lives, offering inspiration to people who are usually isolated from family, friends and / or society.
• Arts & Health: working with the arts to aid mental, emotional and / or physical wellbeing.
• Arts & Environment: encouraging awareness of and demonstrating commitment to environmental issues through the arts.
ARTS & KIDS
NoFit State Circus and Admiral
Building on Admiral’s established relationship with NoFit State Circus, CultureStep is supporting a new community outreach project for pupils in 2 primary schools in Communities First areas of Cardiff. The initiative, which will also engage Admiral staff as co-deliverers, will culminate in an intensive performance skills residency leading up to a public performance.
Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama & Valero
Valero’s sponsorship of RWCMD has enabled the establishment of a Young Actors Studio (YAS) in west-Wales. Housed in Pembrokeshire College, this facility provides specialist acting training for young people aged 12-20 years old. CultureStep will fund a programme of drama outreach workshops delivered in schools in disadvantaged west-Wales communities. It will result in the engagement of new participants for YAS, including 5 means-tested bursaries for the summer term. The investment will also enable young people to be involved in the creation of a short film through a partnership with It’s My Shout Productions.
Wales Millennium Centre & Budget Vets
As a first time arts sponsor, Budget Vets is supporting WMC to address a key objective of working with people and communities. CultureStep is extending the partnership by enabling workshops in 5 schools across the Communities First areas in which Budget Vets practices are situated – Abertillery, Blackwood, Newport, Porth & Risca. Pupils will learn new skills in African Drumming and Mask-Making in-line with The Lion King, which is currently on at the centre.
ARTS & OLDER PEOPLE
Conwy County Borough Council & Cartrefi Conwy
Cartrefi Conwy invested in digital inclusion photography workshops for older people living in sheltered accommodation. The project was so successful that the business wishes to extend the initiative. CultureStep will fund further workshops aimed at enabling harder to reach older males to produce their own work. The resulting work will be exhibited at a new Sheltered Housing Scheme in Llandudno as well as at an Older People’s Day, when a range of free digital opportunities will be offered to attendees.
ARTS & ENVIRONMENT
Ruthin Craft Centre & Peninsula Home Improvements
Through a partnership with Ruthin Craft Centre, Peninsula has commissioned a lighting architectural artist to create a work for installation at its showroom. The business is also sponsoring the artist to work with pupils at a St Asaph school for 3 days. CultureStep will extend the partnership by funding the artist to deliver an environmental arts project to 5 schools in Denbighshire. All the resulting work will be exhibited at RCC, showcasing the power of the arts in promoting and demonstrating environmental issues.
ARTS & HEALTH
Act Now Creative Training & Legal and General (L&G)
L&G supported Act Now to work with Caer Las, a Swansea based charity dedicated to tackling the cause and effect of social exclusion in Wales. Arts based trainer Adrienne O’Sullivan has delivered a programme at the charity’s Connect project, a client-led community resource centre dedicated to adults living with or recovering from mental health difficulties. By linking its corporate social responsibility and Health & Well-being strategies, L&G aims to reduce the stigma associated with mental health, both in the community and internally throughout the business. CultureStep is funding an additional workshop which will acknowledge the contribution, courage and commitment of the clients to the programme and provide an opportunity for in depth evaluation of the pilot.
PROJECTS ADDRESSING MORE THAN ONE CULTURESTEP PRIORITY
Rhian Haf & Phoenix Optical Technologies Ltd
Through a grant from Arts Council of Wales, glass artist Rhian Haf has had the opportunity of undertaking a 2-month residency with Phoenix Optical Glass. The support of the business has allowed her to develop her practice and complete a new body of work. CultureStep will extend the partnership by funding an outreach project for children and older people in Denbighshire, providing them with the opportunity to understand and use glass in a creative way. The business will extend its initial support by providing further access to equipment as well as scrap pieces of materials for the workshops. The investment will enable 10 days of workshops and 2 site visits to the factory. The resulting work will be exhibited at Rhyl Library.
Live Music Now & Western Power Distribution
Western Power is funding 5 participatory performances by LMN musicians in care homes in West Wales. The business aims to increase its customer base by raising awareness amongst older people of its Free Priority Services Register. CultureStep will enable an additional performance at Y Ffwrnes Arts Centre in Llanelli. The special event will bring together vulnerable older people for an afternoon of music and conversation.
Chapter & Legal and General
Legal & General is sponsoring the live streaming of a new theatre production which will place those suffering from dementia, as well as their carers and other health professionals, on stage to tell the emotional and courageous journey of those affected by the condition. CultureStep will deepen the relationship by funding a series of workshops for the business’ employees. This will bring them closer to the project and help them better understand the daily challenges of those suffering with dementia.
Galeri Caernarfon Cyf & Pendine Park Care Organisation
Pendine Park is sponsoring regular creative activities for older people throughout 2015 – TONIC monthly concerts, ESTYNETO stretching and relaxation sessions and CAIN dance group. The business is building a new centre for people with dementia in Caernarfon and wishes to engage the local community. As well as cash sponsorship, Pendine is providing specialist training for Galeri’s front of house staff to help them recognise and deal with individuals with dementia. CultureStep is contributing to Cai Tomos’ fee to enable the CAIN dance group to participate in Galeri’s high profile 10th Anniversary celebrations in April 2015.
North Wales International Music Festival & Pendine Park Care Organisation Ltd
In 2014, Pendine Park Care Organisation has doubled its sponsorship of the annual NWIMF in order to support outreach work delivered by Live Music Now Wales during the festival week. This will enable isolated and less able individuals across North Wales to experience high quality live music. Interactive performances will take place in Care Homes, Homes for the Elderly, Special Schools, Hospices and Day Centres. CultureStep will contribute to the project, helping LMN to reach a total audience of over 2,000 during the tour, including over 1,000 isolated older people and approximately 1,000 disadvantaged young people.
The VC Gallery & Valero
Valero is sponsoring The VC Gallery in Milford Haven to deliver creative workshops to targeted groups of disadvantaged people in Pembrokeshire, using the arts as a conduit to combat social exclusion and assist individuals to regain confidence. The project is targeting Military Veterans in Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion, particularly sufferers of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Other groups engaged will include disadvantaged children, young carers, mental health groups and disabled adults. CultureStep will fund materials to run 25 workshops combining art and the environment. The project will take place over a period of 14 weeks and the resulting work will be exhibited across Pembrokeshire and beyond.
If you are interested in learning more about the work of A & B Cymru visit the website – http://www.aandbcymru.org.uk/