Since my first steps with National Theatre Wales…
Where a day spent hand-scrawling Somali poetry on shop-front windows, an Artist for the day, became a week hard at work covering two-metre-high type in precisely-penned tweets, via playful paper formats and print, through interior graphics, visual identities and HTML coding; which turned into months spent travelling Wales, working with Dementia choirs, photographing smiles and songs, prepared and all set to begin full-scale App development.
…there has been a consistent driver behind each leg of the journey; a willingness to invest in new ideas. Those inspiring and captivating light-bulb moments that themselves illuminate new pathways and new opportunities.
National Theatre Wales has a genuine enthusiasm for nurturing and encouraging local creative talent, of all forms, from all backgrounds*.
* Even slightly chirpy, sometimes chopsy Valleys boys, from small mining-villages, with little connections but lots of ideas.
They have a real curiosity for new creative adventures, and they put that into practice by giving creatives the chance to shine. I have been very lucky to benefit from this encouragement, generosity and support on my own creative journey; I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity.
For me, design of any kind, is always at its best when informed by an in-depth understanding, a shared ambition and a real empathy. Being given the chance to work so closely with National Theatre Wales has shown that we all learn, grow and excel by making the most of each other’s passion and expertise. It is an extraordinary environment that fosters new ideas from fresh perspectives. In creative collaboration there’s a belief that everything is possible and anything is achievable.
The project that best illustrates the remarkable things that can be achieved, when all of these qualities come together, is I’ll Sing This Song. A project filled with such irrefutable humanity, heart and empathy; with community and connections at its very core.
We set out with a big idea, equally high ambitions, and little knowledge of what to expect. But the project was greeted with open arms, embraced with such enthusiasm, and had an immediate positive impact on the lives and wellbeing of all involved.
“I’ve never felt better than now I am singing in front of people.”
– Choir Member, Singing for the Brain, Wrexham
And even now, the project is still growing, adapting and developing; exceeding all our expectations and continuing to reach more and more people. A resource not only to help those living with the Dementia, but for a population in desperate need of a greater understanding of mental health. Highlighting the healing power of creative expression and the vital role the Arts have to play in maintaining our wellbeing.
It’s a great example of how a few pounds invested in biscuits and tea can help put people at ease and open a discussion. How a few pounds more can transport a group of creatives from one edge of the country to the other, to take the work to where it is needed the most. How even further investment allows the creation of an iPad App, to share this story with the world and create a resource that everyone can benefit from, for years to come.
All made possible thanks to National Theatre Wales’ commitment to investing in new ideas, to achieving the absolute most with the resources at hand, and to the collaboration opportunities provided by their community approach. A true catalyst for creativity; with daring, ingenuity and imagination.
Photograph: Alex Lloyd Jenkins