Theatr Clwyd has been nominated for the 2020 Achates Philanthropy Prize, representing Wales with their creativity-inspiring community project, ‘Together’.
Established in 2016, the Achates Philanthropy Foundation is a charity which aims to support innovation in the cultural sector and the development of models enabling organisational resilience. The Achates Philanthropy Prize is a project created by the foundation as part of a national campaign to promote support of the arts. This year, eight cultural organisations have been selected for its National Showcase, including Wales-based Theatr Clwyd. The National Showcase was announced at a special Achates Prize ceremony hosted by poet, producer and librettist, Karthika Naïr and poet Marilyn Hacker, and presented online in partnership with HOME, Manchester.
Now in its fifth year, the Achates Philanthropy Prize has been reimagined to reflect some of the seismic shifts that have defined 2020, beginning with the removal of the competitive element of the prize. Whilst maintaining the view that philanthropy is a barometer of relationships with audiences, the prize pivoted to explore how cultural organisations across the country have responded to the needs of their communities during the pandemic, despite themselves being under threat, and how their communities have responded to this work. “The National Showcase marks how at a dark time, arts organisations across the UK have risen to the challenge and responded to the priorities of their communities”, said Achates chair Caroline McCormick.
A longlist of 120 organisations, comprised of nominations from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and each of the five ACE regions in England (London, Midlands, North, South East and South West), was whittled down to one from each region. The final eight form a National Showcase celebrating the many ways in which art generates value, looking beyond economic value alone to encompass intrinsic value, with proven benefits to mental health, physical health and social wellbeing, community building, educational value and innovation. McCormick said that she hopes this will “inspire and inform the work delivered under the next wave of the pandemic, and drive a greater appreciation for the ecosystem which not only supports resilience but gives the arts its range and richness”.
Theatr Clwyd was chosen to represent Wales based on ‘Together’, a project they launched in response to the pandemic which encouraged and facilitated creativity amongst Theatr Clwyd audiences and their communities. The theatre delivered their workshops online, reaching up to 1,000 people every week, aged 5 to 84, in a multidisciplinary programme that emphasised socialising, sharing of feelings, creativity and having fun. New initiatives also flourished in lockdown, including a partnership with Flintshire Social Services that saw Theatr Clwyd delivering creative packages to young people in households that were receiving food packages. These ‘rainbow boxes’ were filled with creative delights from seeds and colouring pencils to games and sweet treats. The theatre asked the community to help support this initiative and together ensured that more than 200 rainbow boxes reached families across Flintshire.
Other regions’ nominees are: Stage Beyond – Hamlet, Prince of Derry (Northern Ireland); Scottish Ballet – Health at Hand (Scotland); Theatre Centre/Theatre503 – ImagiNation Festival (London); Craftspace – online creative workshops (Midlands); 20 Stories High – Knocking On (North); Rifco Theatre Company – The Desi Lockdown(South East); Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM) RAMM at Home (South West).
A bursary was also awarded to Welsh contemporary art gallery Mostyn as well as Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company (Northern Ireland), Hospitalfield Trust (Scotland), Museum of the Home (London), Fermynwoods Contemporary Art (Midlands), Islington Mill (North), People United (South East) and FEAST (South West).
The 2020 Achates Philanthropy Prize ceremony is available to watch on-demand on the Achates Philanthropy YouTube channel. For more information, visit the prize’s website here and follow @achatesprize on social media.