New pilot development programme for musicians in Wales announced
Three of Wales’ leading music organisations have joined up to deliver a new pilot programme for the development of artists as a legacy of Showcase Scotland 2022.
In 2021, Tŷ Cerdd, Trac Cymru and FOCUS Wales began a new partnership, creating and delivering an Artist Development Programme, supported by Wales Arts International and Arts Council of Wales. The programme aims to accelerate Wales’ music sector within the folk, traditional, world and language-based music genres, by offering opportunities for artists to receive bespoke mentoring and professional development support in reaching their international potential.
The artists taking part in this pilot programme were selected through a call-out for artists to perform at Showcase Scotland in Celtic Connections 2022. In total, 42 exciting and diverse artists responded to the call-out, and a shortlist of 15 artists was drawn up through a two-stage assessment process by a panel chaired by Arts Council of Wales Portfolio Manager Lisa Matthews-Jones. Whilst 6 artists were selected by Donald Shaw (Creative Producer at Celtic Connections) to perform at the prestigious event, all 15 shortlisted artists won an opportunity to develop their careers through a place on the Artist Development Programme.
The selected artists are:
Catrin Finch & Aoife Ní Bhríain
The Gentle Good
The Trials of Cato
The combined impact of Brexit and the Covid pandemic has severely affected the careers of musicians in Wales and threatens to do lasting damage to the fragile music eco system. The Artist Development Programme will contribute towards rebuilding the careers of musicians and encourage professional development and capacity building at all levels in the music sector in Wales.
Andy Jones, Music Programmer at FOCUS Wales said: “The artist development programme has given all involved a fantastic opportunity to assess and discuss the music industry infrastructure that’s currently here in Wales, and explore what more can be done. This project is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when organisations in Wales come together and share their knowledge, experience and networks, to strengthen the offer for our music community. Through our conversations we’ve been able to identify the specific artist challenges and needs, and this has already proven to play an important role for the artists as they each develop their individual career strategies. There are many ways for artists to form careers in music in 2022, and I feel the artist development programme has empowered the participating artists in realising how much control they have upon their career path.”
The value that music brings to Wales is not purely economical, with the pandemic having revealed unequivocally the vital role the arts play in relation to the mental and physical well-being of our communities.
Danny Kilbride, Director and CEO of Trac Cymru said: “Our Artist Development Programme contains 15 acts reflecting a relationship with the community that is Cymru, offering a snapshot of who we are as a people and how we choose to celebrate a living and diverse culture in the 21st century. We try to avoid the word “traditional”. It sounds fixed, dead, alien. It’s not even a word we use in our language. We use ‘gwerin’ which means people, community, ours. So our music sounds like us, diverse, ancient, modern. We don’t reproduce the notes, we play music.”
Collaboration is key to the international development of artists in Wales. Deborah Keyser, Director of Tŷ Cerdd said: “Collaboration is at the heart of the Artist Development Programme, and it feels very timely that our three organisations have come together to deliver this initiative. Supporting Wales-based music-creators to develop their artistic practice, business skills and career trajectory is at the heart of each of our operations. We’re all constantly working with artists, albeit in different ways, and joining forces and learning from each other’s approaches is helping us grow as organisations, while enabling the artists we’re working with. In turn we’re collaborating with a host of sector professionals (for example in the mentoring element) to provide the expertise the artists have identified that they need.”
The Artist Development Programme will continue in 2022-23, as we look ahead to another year of exciting opportunities for Welsh musicians following the announcement that Wales will be International Partner for Showcase Scotland 2023 at Celtic Connections, jointly with Brittany.
FOCUS Wales is a not-for-profit organization, established to provide the annual new music showcase event for the Welsh Music Industry. Our core work centers around the delivery of our international multi-venue showcase festival taking place in Wrexham each year, which places the music industry spotlight firmly on the emerging talent that Wales has to offer the world, alongside a selection of the best new acts from across the globe. FOCUS Wales 2022 will mark the festival’s 11th edition, and will welcome over 15,000 people to the town, building upon 2021′s record attendance across a jam-packed weekend of events. There’s no place like Wrexham during FOCUS Wales, as we showcase 250+ artists from across the world, fill out a variety of spaces and music venues, using 20 stages, and hosting a full schedule of interactive industry sessions, arts events, and film screenings, throughout the festival. In addition to the delivery of the FOCUS Wales festival, we also deliver a number international FOCUS Wales events throughout the year.
Tŷ Cerdd, Music Centre Wales, is the development agency for Welsh music. They work with community groups across Wales, offering artistic expertise and promotional support, and helping them to connect with composers and audiences. Tŷ Cerdd deliver direct support for music-creators, in partnership with a range of organisations, using the slogan “If you’re making music in Wales, it’s Welsh music”. Their in-house recording studio, record label (Tŷ Cerdd Records) and publishing imprint support this work. They also fund a range of music-making across Wales, with Lottery funds distributed for Arts Council of Wales.
Trac Cymru is Wales’ Folk Development organisation; it works to promote and develop the music and dance traditions of Wales, both at home and beyond, and advocates on behalf of the Tradition with public bodies and other organisations. It was founded in 1997 upon a shared belief in the importance and value of Wales’ traditional culture, an awareness of its continuing relevance to the present, and a passion for sharing what music traditions have to offer. Today, Trac Cymru strategically develops the folk music and dance scene of Wales by kindling interest, nurturing talent and presenting the very best of Wales’ folk musicians across the world. You’ll find Trac Cymru working in schools, community settings, on Festival fields and at international showcase events, helping to ensure that the traditional arts of Wales continue to enrich lives regardless of age, background, race or language. In 2000 Trac Cymru became a Registered Charity and a Company Limited by Guarantee. It is run by an executive team supported by a board of committed Trustees, passionate about folk culture and expert in their respective fields.