WalesLab - Our New Initiative for Theatre Artists Across Wales

Some of you will have heard me talking or blogging on this site about our search for ways to support emerging artists. I am delighted that today we are announcing a huge success: five-year funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, providing an average of almost £100,000 per year towards the development of Welsh theatre artists.

Whereas all of National Theatre Wales’ core funding is focused on delivery of fully-produced shows, this new funding will be specifically for the exploration of ideas in the early stages, and on support for emerging artists and companies. It will help us to develop the artists and ideas of the future.

We are calling the programme WalesLab – in tribute to the seminal company Cardiff Lab which did so much to bring new forms of theatre to Wales and the UK in the 1970s and 80s.

WalesLab is a fitting name because, unlike most companies running programmes for emerging artists and new ideas, we don’t have a venue where people can be ‘in residence’. So, building on the success of our launch year’s ‘Theatre Map of Wales’, we are going to place our emerging artists and companies in locations throughout the country – creating what promise to be surprising combinations of people and places, and bringing emerging theatre ideas to the widest possible range of communities.

We will be working with venues, arts organisations, and other groups throughout Wales – asking them to host artists and companies while they develop new work. And we will be setting up an annual ‘summer camp’ for artists where they can share ideas.

Details about how you can apply to be part of the programme will be available in the new year, and things will get underway properly from April 2011. For now, I just wanted to share my excitement and delight that, at this difficult time for artists, we have managed to open up a new opportunity. We are immensely grateful to the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for their belief in National Theatre Wales and in Wales’ theatre artists.

Here’s what Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive of Esmée Fairbairn Foundation had to say:

"Esmée Fairbairn's support for WalesLab is one of a series of grants to enable established theatres to nurture and support emerging theatre practitioners. This fits into our aim to support the long term health of the arts, using different funding models to reach organisations across the UK"

And Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones AM says: “The establishment of a national English-language theatre was a key Welsh Assembly Government commitment. National Theatre Wales has begun to make a huge impact on the arts landscape in Wales, and the team have shown flair and generosity in their early collaborations with other companies. It is hugely important that new ideas should be tested and new talent given opportunities. I congratulate National Theatre Wales on securing this funding from a prestigious foundation, and will watch with interest as the new hub develops.”

Watch out for loads more info soon. Do ask questions through the comments spaces below and I will respond.

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Comment by Rhys Miles Thomas on November 1, 2010 at 10:05
Da iawn! Newyddion Gwych! Well done! Fantastic News!
Comment by Judi Richards on October 28, 2010 at 17:47
Many many congratulations, John to you and NTW Team on a major achievement. Remarkable - and well deserved. Onwards and upwards!
Comment by Alice James on October 27, 2010 at 18:56
Fantastic news! I bet this was a lot of work, well done and thank you! x
Comment by bridget keehan on October 27, 2010 at 13:41
Ace! Well done!
Comment by Bethan Marlow on October 27, 2010 at 12:51
Well that's a little exciting isn't it?! Congratulations.x
Comment by Iain Goosey on October 27, 2010 at 10:12
Massive achievement, congratulations! What an opportunity to encourage the emerging theatre scene in Wales!
Comment by David Harradine on October 27, 2010 at 8:15
Congratulations John & Lucy & all...really brilliant, brilliant news. Greetings from Penygroes. x
Comment by Sarah Jones on October 27, 2010 at 7:45
That is brilliant, wonderful news!
Comment by Mared Swain on October 26, 2010 at 21:04
Great news! Bring on 2011! x
Comment by James Doyle-Roberts on October 26, 2010 at 20:37
Congratulations John, and to rest of your brilliant team; what great news at a time of uncertainty.
I echo Sian's feelings about Cardiff Lab as I worked with one of their off-shoot companies from the age of 10 - 13yrs.
I'm still working in theatre, and hope that WalesLab makes the same ripples. Well done and good luck!

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