Wales: The Power of the Flame
From the summit of Snowdon to the streets of Cardiff and from the stone bastions of Edward 1st’s castles to the canvas pavilions of the largest youth festival in Europe, Power of the Flame has engaged and delighted people throughout Wales.
The programme was made up of five projects which led up to 44 final events during the summer of 2012. These projects were:
• Following the Flame, an exhibition project merging sport, heritage and the arts
• Kindling Talent, a youth performance project with elements of arts and crafts
• Whose flame is it anyway?, a Wales-wide project for young disabled artists
• Cauldrons and Furnaces, extraordinary arts projects devised by young people for the heritage sites of Wales
• Mzansi Cymru, a theatre and music project devised by the communities of the South Wales Valleys and connecting with the townships of South Africa
Photo by Erin Maddocks
108 venues throughout Wales have enjoyed this exhibition project which explored and celebrated the inspiring history of Welsh men and women in the Olympic and Paralympic history. Through the exhibition displays, films, educational workshops, commissioned art and publications the visitor is taken on a fascinating journey from the foundations of the Games in Ancient Greece to the central role of Britain in re-establishing the Olympic Games in 1896 and the Paralympics in 1948.
Arts Council of Wales has funded the gift of the Following the Flame book to every school in Wales. Following the Flame 2 plans to add details of the successes of Welsh athletes in the London 2012 Games to the current exhibition. RACE will use the same formats to explore the role of sport in dispelling prejudices of race, language, sexual orientation, gender, age, disability, religious belief or place of birth.
Urdd Gobaith Cymru is one of the largest youth organisations in Europe with an annual festival or Eisteddfod. It provides Welsh Language cultural opportunities for young people. Legacy Trust UK funding has enabled the Urdd to develop a youth theatre company with a focus on contemporary acting techniques and social issues. In 2012 Cwmni Theatr toured Wales with a performance of Sneb yn Becso Dam (Nobody Gives a Dam) – a new musical theatre piece devised by the young members of the cast and crew.
In 2010 the Urdd hosted a National Primary School Sports competition. During the 2012 Eisteddfod in Snowdonia both the Annual Message of Peace and Goodwill and the Arts and Crafts exhibition adopted Olympic and Paralympic themes.
The script and musical score of Sneb yn Becso Dam were published in August 2012. The theatre group itself is well established with a distinguished roster of directors, writers and practitioners and is sourcing funding for the next three years.
Disability Arts Cymru focused its Legacy Trust UK projects on the development of individual artists throughout Wales. Practitioners and performers worked with new and emerging young disabled actors, dancers, visual artists and musicians during the Cultural Olympiad. Impairment is no barrier to success as remarkable young composer Lloyd Coleman demonstrated when his new symphonic work Breaking the Wall was premiered and recorded by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
The Unusual Stage School treated audiences at Sherman Theatr Cymru to a fascinating adaptation of The Birds by Aristophanes, directed by Cheryl Martin. Go Get Started was a visual arts exhibition which attracted 300 entries. Poetry and prose from writers all over Wales are published in the anthology “Whose flame is it anyway?”. The “Whose flame” Mas carnival brought the project to a festive close on the streets of Cardiff during the London 2012 football tournament.
600 disabled artists and performers have been nurtured by the project. Actors have been given new a confidence and young visual artists have been exhibited for the first time. Potential partnerships with disabled artists are being explored in county Wexford, Ireland.
The north Wales drama group in Caernarfon continues to meet and one of the more experienced Unusual Stage School actors from south Wales will be joining the group in order to develop his workshop leading skills. Such peer-leadership initiatives and positive role models in the arts for disabled young people are the hallmarks of this project.
For more information visit the Arts Council of Wales website.
Cauldrons and Furnaces succeeded in telling extraordinary stories in extraordinary places. The journey around eight iconic Cadw sites in the summer of 2012 highlighted the nation’s rich cultural heritage from its mythic beginnings to modern times. This was articulated through the diversity, skill and the talent of young people and the artists who inspired them.
The journey began with a pilgrimage departing from Llanthony Priory. On the way to St Davids for the final celebration, the pilgrimage passed through castles, holy wells and ancient sites including Blaenavon, Caerphilly, Laugharne where special events were held for each of the local communities.
Throughout Wales young people re-imagined the heritage sites in ways relevant to their new generation. Enchanted gardens, festivals of sculpture and resonant orchestras made of industrial waste were created. Gold artefacts from the Bronze Age, giant puppets and sleeping dragons were all combined with state of the art digital technology to surprise, intrigue and delight visitors.
The principle legacy has been the establishment of an Arts Framework for the Welsh heritage organisaiton, Cadw, for the future. The concordat is with Arts Council of Wales and is led by the Welsh Government. It will enable Cauldrons and Furnaces to flourish in new and unexpected ways.
In July 2012 ‘Torchbearers’, a community production led by Valleys Kids was performed at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff by performers from South Wales and South Africa. It is an inspirational love story set during the making of the film Zulu (1964), the same year that Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. The production moves to Arts Scape in Cape Town in November 2012.
Essential to the experience was a spectacular musical synthesis of traditional South African and Welsh culture led by Paula Gardiner. On stage an enormous cast of actors, dancers, and singers from Wales and South Africa assembled under the direction of scriptwriter Larry Allen. Young Welsh people who had never performed before took their place on a national stage inspired by the distinctive and athletic contributions of the South African performers.
‘Torchbearers’ signifies the culmination of many years of development, but it is just the beginning of long term links that will enable the communities of Wales and Africa to work together to make a positive social and economic impact.
The performance was the tip of four years intensive and dedicated work, allowing partnerships to develop and the young people and communities involved to have a genuine investment and ownership of the project. It is something that will stay with them forever.
Photo by Glenn Edwards
The lead partner for Power of the Flame is Arts Council of Wales
For more information visit the website.