Projects

Showcase Celebration

Bethel Community Centre. Image © Sarah Goodey

For eight years, the South Wales Literature Development Initiative has been spreading the love of reading and writing across south Wales. Literature Wales’ flagship outreach celebrated the hard work and creative flair of communities and individuals in the south Wales Valleys in a showcase event at the Senedd, Cardiff Bay, with a talk by Deputy Minister for Culture and Sport Ken Skates AM.

Since August 2007, the South Wales Literature Development Initiative (SWLDI) has offered a variety of creative experiences based on the written word to those who may not have had any contact with mainstream arts and culture before. From young people at risk of exclusion to those in sheltered accommodation for the elderly, SWLDI invites authors, poets and spoken-word artists to lead workshops, inspire participants and spread the love for reading and writing.

Deputy Minister Ken Skates AM

Deputy Minister for Culture and Sport Ken Skates AM said: “I am very pleased to support the work of Literature Wales and the South Wales Literature Project – a project that truly reflects the organisation’s motto that literature is for everyone and can be found everywhere. This project has demonstrated the power of literature and arts to improve quality of life and inspire individual creativity […]I hope it will continue to engage and inspire and that, in the near future, we’ll see the next Gillian Clarke or Owen Sheers emerge from it.”

The showcase event at the Senedd included diverse performances from some of the workshops this year.  Highlights included, a group of 14-16 year olds with minority ethnic backgrounds from Port Talbot, reading their monologues on ‘Identity’; a word and poetry display created by the residents of Barry’s Extra Care Unit, Golau Caredig, focussing on their memories of Barry; poetry read by female refugees from Newport; a celebration of a published children’s book – Petra the Penguin – written by young mothers from Caerphilly; and  rap and lyric songs from Lewis School and young adults in sheltered accommodation from Torfaen.

Lleucu Siencyn CEO

Lleucu Siencyn CEO

Chief Executive of Literature Wales, Lleucu Siencyn, said: “I’m delighted to celebrate the successes of the South Wales Literature Initiative. Literature does not belong to the elite – it belongs to anyone who uses and loves languages. Whether it is through comic books or song-writing or reminiscing about the past, this project has given people from traditionally deprived areas to access the arts and express themselves creatively.”

The project has worked in over 10 local authorities in South Wales, and now mainly focuses its activities in five: Caerphilly, Neath Port Talbot, Newport, Torfaen and the Vale of Glamorgan. Here, Literature Wales teams up with local arts and library teams to organise creative activities for people of all ages and abilities.

Writers and poets have gone into schools, libraries, care homes, mental health wards, boxing halls, train stations, hospitals, inclusion centres (to name only a few venues) to lead  workshops and inspire creative expression in others. Catherine Fisher, Ioan Kidd, Huw Aaron, Tom Anderson, Mike Church, Rufus Mufasa, Patrick Jones, Francesca Kay and Gillian Clarke are just some of those who have been a part of realising Literature Wales’ belief that ‘literature is for everyone’.

Photographs are courtesy of Sarah Goodey