Thriving through Creative Collaborations
Throughout lockdown, Arts & Business (A&B) Cymru, the Welsh charity which specialises in forging creative collaborations, has been busier than ever. The small team has worked tirelessly to support its business and arts members across the nation through a range of innovative services adapted to ensure that the current restrictions are no barrier to success.
Thanks to a grant from the Arts Council of Wales’ National Lottery Stabilisation Fund, A&B Cymru is helping its arts members to form relevant and far-reaching partnerships with business. The charity’s Chief Executive, Rachel Jones, said: I am very proud of how quickly A&B Cymru was able to adjust its programmes in response to lockdown, resulting in practical and useful support to our members, tailored to their specific needs. It has been truly inspiring to see how willing our business partners have been to practically assist the arts sector. It is a hugely worrying time for everyone and the arts is certainly no exception. Many brilliant, successful companies have had the majority of their income taken away overnight and we must strive to ensure that these precious companies get through this dreadful time.
Part of the grant awarded to A&B Cymru has been used to give arts membership bursaries to companies currently unable to pay their annual fees. This has ensured that the level of service provided to the sector has remained unbroken. Among these is Cardiff based NoFit State Circus. The company’s Executive Director Alison Woods said: We have been a Member of A&B Cymru for many years – and the benefits are enormous. In these difficult times where every penny needs to be spent on immediate survival we would have been forced to let our Membership lapse. Because of the additional support that ACW have given through the Stabilisation Fund – we can continue to access the training and support services for free – a real benefit in these difficult times.
A&B Cymru is also proactively encouraging its members to adjust the successful partnerships they have established in order to continue the collaborations which achieve so much for both sectors. Three years ago, the charity brokered a partnership for Neath based Theatr na nÓg with Cardiff Harbour Authority and the Port of Milford Haven. Both businesses face the constant challenge of discouraging anti-social and dangerous behavior on their land, particularly tombstoning, which involves jumping into the water from a great height. As the theatre company’s planned visits to schools in Cardiff and Milford Haven had to be postponed this summer, the partners worked together to create a new digital version of the play set during the current pandemic. The film was distributed to schools in Cardiff and Pembrokeshire as a tool to engage and educate teenagers in a meaningful and far reaching way. Theatr na nÓg’s Artistic Director, Geinor Styles said: To find a way to still deliver a project, during an incredibly challenging situation with the support of A&B Cymru and our two business partners, was so appreciated. Not only creating a new way of presenting the story but the openness and generosity of all partners to make it work for the youngsters.
"Just Jump" by Theatr na nÓg
The Stabilisation grant has also funded a crucial advice service for the arts, delivered virtually by A&B Cymru’s business members. Tailored to individual needs, the programme enables arts organisations to access focused guidance in areas such as business planning, finance and marketing. David Drake, Director of Ffotogallery is one of the arts managers benefiting from the programme. He said: Ian Hannah's mentoring and being a sounding board for new ideas has provided me with invaluable support at this challenging time. Ffotogallery is not only gearing up for re-opening, but making significant organisational changes to enable us to provide the best service we can for artists and audiences going forward. Sharing my ideas and reflections with Ian and receiving his insightful feedback, helps sharpen my approach to engaging the staff team, board and stakeholders in the process of business change.
Over the coming months, A&B Cymru will strive to provide even more useful, practical ways of helping arts organisations to overcome the significant and unprecedented challenges they now face. It is hoped that, through genuine partnership and collaboration, the vibrant cultural sector that is so crucial to the health and wellbeing of Wales and its people, will emerge from the current crisis thriving and strong.
This project was made possible through funding from the Arts Council of Wales’s National Lottery Fund.
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