Mess up the Mess: Celebrating a year of collaboration and creativity at Pontardawe Arts Centre

Amplify:Trowch e Lan – An innovative and dynamic creative project with young people and youth culture at its heart

Mess Up The Mess have been working in partnership with Pontardawe Arts Centre and its Friends of Group, to deliver a series of exciting, engaging and creative activities for young people aged 11-25 years old.

Amplify: Trowch e Lan came to an end in early September 2020, having delivered creative workshops to over a 100 young people in the Pontardawe area, and with over 130 young people at local schools. The project has been running since October 2019 by Mess up the Mess Theatre Company and Pontardawe Arts Centre.

One of the key elements of the project is that young people have played a key role in creating, managing and delivering their own programme of events at the Arts Centre.

Young people have had a chance to take part in creative workshops and short courses in sound, film, lighting, marketing, writing and theatre. They’ve also had a Drop in Tech Zone every Thursday evening at Pontardawe Arts Centre for 14-19 year olds.

The project’s final months were delivered via online webinars and workshops during the Covid-19 lockdown.  During this time, workshops and events that have been delivered include a marketing course, a film course, spoken word masterclass with Rufus Mufasa, beat boxing masterclass with Dean Yhnell, Play on Words – play writing event, Amplify Arena – online gaming tournament, D&D Skyward – Dungeons and Dragons event and Platfform Level 2 – live performance event.

One of the key final projects was a series of ‘Unexpected Art’ workshops with artist Leanne Vaughan-Philipps. The young people created art pieces which were to be exhibited at Pontardawe Arts Centre. The lockdown made this impossible so an online art gallery was created so the work could be shared online. The public were asked to vote for their favourite piece which was then the inspiration for a large graffiti piece of work outside Pontardawe Arts Centre. The artwork chosen was created by Carys and is now displayed as graffiti artwork outside Pontardawe Arts Centre. The young people involved in the project also took part in an art workshop with the graffiti artist Lloyd The Graffiti.

Graffiti Workshop_19_09_2020

Graffiti Workshop_19_09_2020

Graffiti Workshop_19_09_2020

Carys, who’s artwork was chosen by the public vote said;
“I love art and when I came across this opportunity during lockdown I thought I’d give it a go. We had online workshops over Zoom to discuss and share ideas. I was so pleased when my artwork was chosen by the public as I put a lot of work into it. My favourite thing about the course was making the graffiti as I’d never done anything like that before. The graffiti artist showed us different techniques like shading. It was so nice to see it all come together as the piece was inspired by my artwork. I was really happy with how it all turned out. I’m starting my GCSEs now and studying art and looking forward to developing my skills.”

Graffiti Workshop_19_09_2020

Bronwyn, who took part in the art project said;
“I really enjoyed taking part in the online sessions to have a chance to talk about the project and share ideas. I made two pieces – a collage to show the local NHS workers as local heroes and an artwork about how I felt during lockdown and the happiness of going back to school. My favourite part was making the collage and seeing my work on the wall in Pontardawe!”

MJ took part in many of the Amplify: Trowch e lan activities said;
The activities I took part in were the sound course, film course, event planning course and I did the Unexpected Art as well.  The activities I enjoyed the most were playing on instruments on the sound course and doing designs and stuff for the Unexpected Art.  The best thing about the course were learning new skills, trying new things and meeting new people.”

Sarah Jones, Artistic Director of Mess up the Mess said;
“We’ve loved working on this project with Pontardawe Arts Centre. It’s been brilliant to see so many young people getting involved in so many different creative workshops. We’ve taken the young people to see live theatre, engaged in conversations and given them an opportunity to try new things. We’re proud that we’ve managed to carry on the project even with the lockdown happening and now to see the artwork come alive and have a permanent presence outside the Arts Centre is amazing.”

Elizabeth Felton from Pontardawe Arts Centre said;

Amplify: Trowch e Lan has been a great project for us at Pontardawe Arts Centre. One of the aims for us has been to make the venue more inviting to young people so they can feel part of what goes on. This project has helped adapt the venue to feel like a place young people can find creative energy and look after their well-being. It has been a project mostly directed by young people which feels quite rare too. The biggest challenge came with lockdown as we had to shut and lock the front doors to the venue so it was difficult to see how we could keep this going but it all went online and reached out to young people in the area who might have needed us. It’s been really imaginative the variety of creativity the young people have delivered.  Thank you to Mess Up the Mess and the organisations who have funded this project too.”

This project is funded by the LEADER programme through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government to deliver a youth engagement project.

Images: Credit Celf Calon