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:
Find out more about the Artist Development Programme and the participating artists here.
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.”