SPAN Arts End of Year Highlights - Span Arts
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SPAN Arts End of Year Highlights

As 2023 draws to a close, we wanted to take this opportunity to look back at the brilliant year we have had at SPAN. We want to say an extra special thank you to all our volunteers, funders and each and every person who has come along to one of our events, your continued support means so much to us!

The first quarter of the year kick started off with a variety of workshops, performances and projects including:

  • Co-creating with young people in Ysgol Preseli
  • Hosting a hi-hop, writing workshop with Fio for their production of House of Jollof
  • Partnering with Milford Haven Port Authority to develop artist-led Health and Safety video with artist Gemma Green-Hope
  • Sign and Share sessions facilitated by artist Pip Lewis

Narberth A Capella Voice Festival 2023

Wales’ only a cappella festival kicked started with a singing feast. The Saturday concert showcased diverse genre performances, ensuring something for everyone. The impressive triple-bill included award-winning quartet 4 in a Bar, the exceptional Lviv soprano Khrystyna Makar, and the duo Camilo Menjura & Molara, blending Latin American grooves with choral music.
Along with the feast and concert a variety of workshops took place over the weekend and the event finished off with a fantastic performance from Côr Pawb.

The House of Jollof Opera presented a live pop-up experience, offering a Nigerian vegan delicacy. Accompanied by a 15-minute hip-hop-influenced operatic story, the show took audiences on a journey of taste, aroma, and rhythms. Written and performed by Welsh-Nigerian artist Tumi Williams, starring acclaimed soprano Gweneth Ann Rand, and directed by Welsh-Indian Sita Thomas, the production aimed to challenge opera and live performance perceptions, addressing inequities in access to art and culture. The House of Jollof Opera celebrated modern, multicultural Cymru.

Côr Pawb rehearsals start – people of all ages and abilities from across Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, and Ceredigion came together to rehearse for Narberth A Capella Voice Festival.

As part of our Love Stories to Nature project the latest commission titled ‘Songlines’ was a collaboration with artists Charlotte Cortazzi and Sue Kullai.

Taking place on Whitesands Beach in St. Davids, the artists invited participants to come along with a rake or stick and draw a bird in the sand to accompany their giant sand art drawing.

The weather was on their side as families, friends and strangers came together to draw birds of all shapes and sizes linked to Pembrokeshire.

As Spring started to emerge, we had a flurry of fantastic events including:

  • The stunning sound installation Our Branch that Stopped Singing by Billy Maxwell Taylor – A Love Stories to Nature commission
  • Samara Van Rijswijk joins the team as Marketing Assistant
  • The Point Youth Club in Fishguard performed their fashion show as part of our Youth Project series.
  • Sinfonia Cymru performed at HWB
  • The Edge Youth Club showcased an exhibition which featured a variety of artworks that was inspired by the importance of activism and self-expression.

The BIG Plant Sale is a significant event in the gardening calendar and plays a crucial role for SPAN charity.
This year’s BIG Plant Sales attracted over 1,600 visitors, offering an impressive array of flowers, herbs, and vegetable plants, accompanied by food and music. Next year’s Big Plant Sale will take place on 4th May 2024.

Pererin Wyf / Is Oilithreach Mé / I am a pilgrim is a participatory arts project which sought to connect with the Welsh and Irish diaspora with particular reference to a new cross-border pilgrimage connecting Pembrokeshire and Wexford.  The project took its title and inspiration from an 18th century hymn by the prolific Welsh writer William Williams Pantycelyn. The hymn has been sung to the tune of Amazing Grace since Welsh singer Iris Williams made her landmark recording in 1971.

This project culminated in May 2023 with an online documentary film screening and song sharing followed by a short live streamed concert at St Davids Cathedral.

In June we took to the streets of Haverfordwest to present Music Theatre Wales’ THE SCORCHED EARTH TRILOGY

Three 10 Minute Street Art Operas for the end of the world. The new performances of three short street art operas reflected on the environmental disaster we are facing, and the lack of serious climate action. The shows transformed the town in a way the audience have never seen it before.

SPAN and artist Di Ford hosted a wellbeing and networking event for health and social care professionals and creatives in Pembrokeshire.
Attendees met colleagues, peers, and creatives over lunch to delve into creative prescribing, its positive health benefits for communities, and accessibility strategies. The event provided opportunities to participate in creative activities, share ideas, understand creative prescribing, and network with professionals and creatives from across the county.

We invited you to step outside during the summer months, immerse yourself in art exhibitions and much more!

  • We hosted a Volunteer Social for new and long standing volunteers
  • A very wet and windy Outdoor Shakespeare took place at Lampeter House!
  • Artist Emily Laurens was commissioned as part of our Love Stories to Nature Project
  • As part of our We Move Project we hosted a script day with Phil Okwedy and Rose Thorn
  • Ceris Ashe hosts a series of workshops as part of her commission with SPAN and Unlimited to create a new theatre piece.
  • Bethan Morgan joins the team as Community Producer
  • ArtsBoost was awarded runner up Commissioning for Patient Experience at the Patient Experience Network National Awards
  • SPAN are invited to join the Arts Council of Wales Arts Portfolio Wales.

Criw Celf, a project funded by the Arts Council of Wales, nurtures children with a keen interest in art. Through workshops, young people collaborated with artists, delving into diverse creative techniques—from willow weaving to sculpture, puppet making, and drawing. Culminating in a private exhibition at the SPAN building, the talented young artists showcased their creations to family, friends, and the local community. The vibrant displays highlighted a plethora of techniques and brought joy to all who attended.

Nature Workshops held during the last full week of July as part of Civic Week, brought together locals and visitors for a week-long celebration of togetherness and joy. In the most recent year, participants experienced an unforgettable time engaging in workshops led by talented artists Maïa Sparrow and Hannah Rounding, blending creativity, nature, and community.

We stepped into the picturesque setting of East Angle Bay, nestled at the mouth of the Milford Haven waterway through the award-winning documentary A Gathering Tide. As part of our Love Stories to Nature commission by Bronwen Gwillam & Gilly Booth, the film screening took place in August. You can watch the full documentary here.

Circus and theatre performer Claire Crook took us on a powerful  journey celebrating female power, magic, fantasy and the ability to overcome adversity in this outdoor arial performance at Scolton Manor.

The winter months did not deter us from hosting some insightful, informative, and inspiring events:

  • Celeste Ingram joins the team as Development Officer. This role is supported by A&B Cymru’s Creative Internships Programme, which places graduates into arts organisations as trainee fundraisers.
  • As part of our We Move project we took part in the National Black History 365 launch at St. Fagans Museum, along with hosting a West Wales Black History Launch Party in Small World Theatre.
  • Photographer Lou Luddington is commissioned as part of our Love Stories to Nature Commission
  • Theatre Performers Mothers of Nature are commissioned as part of our Love Stories to Nature Commission.
  • To finish of the year we host a Volunteer Awards to celebrate all the hard work our volunteers have done over the past year.

Our Volunteer Co-ordinator and Community Producer began co-creating with the young people a Letterston School to devise a brief for their up and coming project. Since the co-creation session, musician Matthew Jones has been commissioned to run a series of song writing workshops with the young people and record a song.

We were delighted to host workshops in Pembrokeshire & Ceredigion for The Privilege Café, where participants discussed their priorities and utilized their privilege for good. Founded by Mymuna Soleman to provide a welcoming space for marginalized voices, it fosters authentic conversations and inclusivity. The platform acknowledges white privilege as the basis for each dialogue, fostering a safe space for sharing lived experiences and contributing to the journey of change.

Emily Laurens and friends hosted A Queer Date with Nature – a joyful event diving into queer ecology. Through games, exercises, and creative activities, participants gained a deeper understanding of the ideas that informed queer ecology and ecosexuality.
Explored were concepts such as living with a planet that could be messy and uncomfortable, challenging notions around natural and unnatural, and celebrating the resilience of the little things that survived and thrived.

To finish off the year our Annual Advent Concert took place at Pisga Chapel which featured the exceptional talents of Jessica Robinson, a soprano hailing from Pembrokeshire and Whitland Male Voice Choir!

Thank you once again for all your support and we wish you a peaceful 2024!