Our Year in Review
Well, that’s been quite a year. At the start of the year we led on the learning programme for The Townscape Heritage Project in Blaenavon, generously funded by the Heritage Lottery Foundation. In this second year of the project we worked with about 60 Year Five pupils, using visual arts as a way of engaging young people in their town and heritage, we’re aiming to continue with this exciting project into 2021 too. We also worked alongside New Inn Primary School, delivering a series of multi-discipline workshops exploring the theme of Welshness, working with Sion Marshall-Waters, Lauren Heckler and Dan Swain to devise a series of photographs, sounds and lyrics that will be combined together in a thrilling video to be released in January 2021.
Following the lockdown restrictions in March we were so sad to have to close our building for almost six months. During that period we worked hard to keep engaged online with our wonderful audiences through sharing artists work and past exhibitions, creating video workshops and tutorials for young people and creating a Community Sketchbook of all the amazing work you were making in lockdown. Your support during that time was so important and we hope we cheered you all up a little too!
1st September was our first day back open - a mixture of apprehensive and excitement! Our building was at last open to the public but we still had to adapt how we would continue to deliver many aspects of our work. We introduced the stringent measures which by now we have all had to learn to interact safely with each other. In October we marked Hate Crime Awareness Week with a specially commissioned digital writing workshop from Andrew Ogun, we would encourage everyone to take part in this free online workshop here. In November our annual Portal Exhibition celebrated the work of 15 graduates, in tandem with a dedicated online mentoring programme. We supported university students by providing advice on project development, curation, artists working educators and approaching galleries. We’re looking to build on this important work for developing talent in 2021, so keep a look out for more information coming soon. Naz Syed launched 'lost connections', a brilliant project focussing on the connections we missed throughout lockdown, follow us for more information about this project coming soon. December saw us faced with a firebreak lockdown, which meant missing two weeks of our blockbuster Blanket Coverage/ O Dan y Gorchudd exhibition, curated by the brilliant Laura Thomas, and then missing a few more days of it due to further restrictions. It’s been upsetting to think that a lot of people will be missing out on the chance to see this exhibition, and so we have decided to extend the exhibition until 10th April 2021!
Next year we’ll be sharing new and exciting content about the Blanket Coverage Exhibition so stay tuned to our social media and newsletters. We’re also getting a new look! – Our open call for designers/developers to build us a new website & visual identity for Llantarnam Grange is open until the 15th of January, with more info available here.
Thank you to all of our friends, followers, subscribers and visitors over the past year. Your support has sincerely meant a huge difference, and has helped us keep the lights on. There will be a lot of end-of-year roundup emails from organisations exclaiming how difficult this year has been, and there have been hardships for us too. But, as a small organisation of 5 full time equivalent staff, we have, and will continue to survive through support from yourselves, local and central government, Arts Council of Wales, as well as trusts and foundations. We take our role as a public organisation very seriously, and feel passionately about serving our publics.
In April we released a statement in support of ending systemic racism, racial inequality and supporting cultural democracy. We have a list of committed actions to start addressing the racial inequality in our organisation. This is not a complete nor exhaustive list and we intend to build on these actions ahead of the release of our Curatorial Statement next year. We will be holding ourselves, and encourage others in the sector to hold us to account as we look forward to tackling systemic racism both as an organisation and in conversation with many people in the future.
- We will be offering our hire-spaces at Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre to organisations led by people of colour for activities, meetings or otherwise on a free basis. This comes into effect immediately.
- For our Portal 2021 exhibition, we will be ring-fencing Six of the 15 places for artists of colour, graduating from a UK university. Six places will also be ring-fenced for Welsh or Wales-based artists graduating from a UK University, these are not mutually exclusive. Information about this programme will be released in April 2021.
- We will begin announcements to recruit for our Youth Board in January 2021 with the aim of broadening our racial diversity and age diversity in our governance and on the board of trustees.
- In Summer 2022, we will be recruiting several new trustees, starting November 2022. We will be inviting applications from people of colour, with suitable lived or working experience, as a recognised deficit of experience on the board, ringfencing 3 positions for people of colour.
- We will be releasing a Curatorial Policy in January 2021 that will provide explicit transparency on how, when and why we work with artists, makers, educators and stockists.
- We have adopted blind recruitment processes, welcome lived experience on a level par with worked experience and provide questions in advance to create a more hospitable recruitment process, and will actively encourage Black and non-Black people of colour to apply for our roles in the future.
- We will release our evaluation policy in March 2021 that stipulates how we intend to ethically use the data and information that we collect to advocate for more equitable representation within the sector.
Thank you for all your support throughout 2020, we’re looking forward to welcoming you back to Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre in 2021. We hope you all have a merry Christmas and a happy new year.
With best wishes
The Llantarnam Grange Team.