Ar Waith Ar Daith, 10th Anniversary of the Wales Millennium Centre
Nominated for Best Outdoor Event at the forthcoming Event Awards 2016
In 2014 Walk the Plank was commissioned by the Wales Millennium Centre to be the creative force behind its 10th anniversary celebrations. Apart from celebrating what has now become an iconic building within Cardiff we were asked to embrace the wealth of Welsh artistic culture and heritage across as many communities as possible, culminating in a finale spectacular at the end of our journey on September 12.
Taking the Welsh word ‘Awen’, or artistic muse, as its central theme Walk the Plank ran three separate ‘Awen’ training schools for outdoor arts practitioners in early 2015 in Carnaerfon, Castle y Bere and Newport, embracing a wide range of disciplines – from costume design, lantern making and choreography to aerial artistry, fire drawings and puppetry.
Adopting its proven training through production model, Walk the Plank linked emerging artists with leading practitioners as part of a linear journey towards the finale event in September 2015. Sponsored by Lloyds Bank, the three schools attracted a total of 91 attendees.
Critical to the success of the project was it ability to represent the diversity of Welsh culture in all its forms and also to reach to as broad a range of artists and communities throughout the principality. To achieve this, Walk the Plank commissioned Cardiff-based digital artists Native HQ to create a digital cauldron of inspiration, modelled on the mythical cauldron of Ceridwen (Welsh mistress of mystery and magic), housed in the foyer on the Wales Millennium Centre which formed the focal point for a continuous stream of content from artists across Wales. This was delivered by a digital bus tour with an on board performance space which enabled a wealth of artistic content, from drawing and song to story telling and music, to be relayed live to the WMC cauldron throughout August and September. The ‘Awen’ digital bus tour began its journey at the Eistedfodd and worked its way around 31 communities before arriving at the WMC. During this time it engaged with over 150 artists and generated extensive interaction on social media.
The finale performance of Ar Waith Ar Daith, A Welsh journey of myth and magic, became the largest ever outdoor production staged in Wales featuring over 600 participants involving: mass movement choreography, puppetry, a lantern procession, a parade of oarsmen and women from 25 Welsh sea rowing clubs, a new music composition from BAFTA award winning composer John Rea, a children’s choir, aerial performances, fire drawings, pyrotechnics and a centrepiece moving cauldron. Welsh actress Sian Cothi performed the central role of Cerdiwen.
Broadcast live on S4C and seen by an outdoor audience of 12,000, Ar Waith Ar Daith was an epic performance by any measure. Yet, critical to the success of its underlying vision, was its aim to be more than just an ephemeral piece of outdoor art. Through its learning programmes and artists engagement initiative via the Awen digital bus tour it is designed to leave a legacy to inspire a future generation of outdoor arts practitioners.
95% of practitioners said Awen continues to encourage them to consider working with audiences new to the arts. All practitioners felt Awen would increase their employability with 45 % feeling this was the case for definite.