Theatr Clwyd boss: We want to nurture Welsh talent

Reporter:

Jamie Bowman

BOSSES at Theatr Clwyd have denied claims they are not providing enough opportunities for Welsh actors or Welsh language script writers.

In a recent interview with BBC Radio Cymru, Manon Eames, of the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain, accused the Mold-based theatre of sourcing much of its talent and production teams from England, as well as holding many of its productions in the English language.

She called on the Arts Council of Wales to carry out a full review of the situation, after it was revealed the theatre has spent more time outside of Wales – 755 actor weeks since 2015 under its new management – compared to 191 during its previous management.

In response, a statement from Theatr Clwyd said its work across the border was due to more theatre and co-productions, more actors being hired and the touring of its work around the UK.

Tamara Harvey, who became artistic director of Theatr Clwyd in 2015, said: “We’re working hard at Theatr Clwyd to nurture Welsh talent in both the Welsh and English languages – writers, actors, directors, designers, composers – and to provide a training ground for the other skills embedded in a producing theatre, such as stage management, administration, set building, scenic art, props making, catering, lighting and sound, facilitators and box office.

“We’re making strides but we want to and will do better. It’s something that’s very much at the forefront of our conversations and our planning.”

Ms Harvey said the criticisms of the theatre were unfair and that finding and using Welsh talent was “vital” going forward. 

“When the recent BBC article came out, I was saddened both by the content and by the fact those who had spoken out didn’t feel able to come and speak to us first,” she said. 

“Rather than asking us what we were doing and starting a discussion about what we need to do better, they went straight to the Press, which suggests that however open we think our doors are, they’re not open enough – which is why we want to create a platform for positive discussion and genuine change.

“The question of how to find, nurture, encourage, develop and retain Welsh talent is a vital and an urgent one.

“It’s one no single theatre or person can answer. We need to work together – to use our collective brain power and imagination – and to pool our resources to ensure we’re doing and continue to do all we can.”

The theatre will now host a number of open forums and discussions, chaired by Harvey and the centre’s director of creative engagement, Gwennan Mair Jones, encouraging visitors to suggest how the venue continues their commitment to championing Welsh talent 

“We want to hear from anyone who wants their voice to be heard and anyone who has ideas about how we can ensure opportunity for all,” added Ms Harvey. 

“And we want even those too shy to speak out to know they can come along and listen. We’ll keep having these open forums every six months, so that we can embrace new ideas and keep everyone informed about what we are doing.

“We know this isn’t something that can be solved quickly or easily but we’re also certain that by talking with others, listening to each other and building plans from what we say and hear, we can seize this opportunity to make sure that Welsh artists, craftspeople and technicians, in both languages, are empowered for generations to come.”

l THE ‘open discussions’ will be held on Friday, November 3 from noon to 2pm and Wednesday, November 8 from 6pm to 8pm at The Clwyd Room, Theatr Clwyd. Everyone is invited and you can just turn up – no booking necessary. 

Email:

jamie.bowman@nwn.co.uk

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