Celebrating Resilience & Creativity in Action

Arts Organisations Recognised for their Work through the COVID-19 Pandemic

Arts & Business (A&B) Cymru’s Celebration of the Arts event, sponsored by Wales & West Utilities, took place at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff on Thursday 2 December. The event, which was also live-streamed to a global audience, shone a light on the flexibility and innovation displayed by the arts sector during the pandemic, and saw seven organisations receiving cash prizes in recognition of their work.

A host of well-known personalities presented the winning organisations with their prizes. They included actors Rakie Ayola, Aneirin Hughes, Julian Lewis Jones, Suzanne Packer, Callum Scott Howells and Keiron Self, TV & Designer presenter Anna Ryder Richardson, and Deputy Minister for Arts & Sport, Dawn Bowden, MS.

Pontypridd-based Artis Community Cymuned won The Waterloo Foundation & University of Wales Trinity Saint David Prize for adapting rapidly to the challenges of the pandemic, bringing a range of activities and art forms to over 15,500 people.

Disability Arts Cymru was awarded the Cartrefi Conwy Prize in recognition of its activities which aimed to alleviate isolation, support well-being and encourage creative development among its particularly vulnerable audience.

Engage Cymru received the Cardiff & Vale Health Charity Prize for its exemplary work engaging marginalised communities with galleries and museums, local authorities and artists.

The Penderyn Distillery Prize was awarded to Hijinx for the organisation’s work in combatting social isolation for learning-disabled people, by delivering over 350 online sessions, helping its Academy actors to secure work digitally and producing award-winning online theatre.

The Aloud Charity won the Pendine Park Care Organisation Prize in recognition of the vital support it provided to participants, successfully extending its work in terms of social impact and engagement with supporters.

Neath-based Theatr na nÓg was awarded the Admiral Prize for its creative and collaborative approach to bringing high quality theatre to its audiences.

The top Award – the prestigious Hodge Foundation Prize – was awarded to Forget-Me-Not Chorus for the inspiring work undertaken by the organisation to engage some the most vulnerable in society, in care homes, hospitals and the community, empowering and connecting people who are living with or alongside dementia.

The Adviser of the Year Award for the individual from business who has made the most impact on an arts organisation working through A&B Cymru’s Professional Development Programmes, was won by Deb Bowen Rees, Non-Executive Director of Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water and Port of Milford Haven, for her outstanding support of Hijinx Theatre and The Other Room.

Speaking at the Celebration, Deputy Minister for Arts & Sport Dawn Bowden, MS said “On behalf of the Welsh Government I would like to extend our congratulations to Arts & Business Cymru for recognising all the organisations who have been awarded a prize this evening.  Like every cultural organisation across Wales, Arts & Business Cymru had to rapidly adjust and refocus to address the major challenges posed by the pandemic, and the charity has done a super job continuing its staunch and much valued support of the arts.”

In addition to the cash sponsors of the Celebration, A&B Cymru worked with a range of event partners, all of whom added to the success of the evening. They are: Entertainment Sponsor University of South Wales and Media Partner Orchard Media & Events, as well as designdough, Eversheds Sutherland, FlightLink Wales, Milltir Sgwâr, Park Plaza Cardiff and Sherman Theatre.

The prize winners were chosen by a panel of judges representing the Celebration’s sponsors: Catherine Brannigan, Fund Manager for The Waterloo Foundation; Nicola Burns, Executive Assistant at Admiral; Laura Carpanini, Head of Media at Orchard Media & Events; Katie Clubb, Managing Director of Cartrefi Conwy; Sarah Edwards, Artist in Residence at Pendine Park Care Organisation; Jaime Falarczyk, Head of Corporate Affairs at Wales & West Utilities; Karen Hodge, Trustee of the Hodge Foundation; Mark Jackson, Director of the South Wales Business School at University of South Wales; Simone Joslyn, Head of Arts at Cardiff & Vale Health Charity; Janet Price, Operations Director at Eversheds Sutherland; and Professor Ian Walsh, Provost at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

The Adviser of the Year judges were David Landen, CEO of Hodge Bank, and Geinor Styles, Artistic Director of Theatr na nÓg.

The evening’s festive entertainment was provided by the cast of Sherman Theatre’s A Christmas Carol and versatile violinist and composer, Simmy Singh.