A quickfire rattle through some noteworthy things in and/or relating to Wales and the Welsh, in the fields of art, culture, socialising, development, awards and so forth.
Literature Wales’ annual prize has had to ‘go virtual’ for a second year running, agonisingly close to being able to avoid that too, but at the time of publication has announced all but one of its 2021 winners, with £14,000 of prize money shared among them. Catrin Kean scooped the main award for her debut novel Salt, announced on Radio Wales on Sat 31 July. Fiona Sampson, Victoria Owens and and Patience Aghabi respectively won the English-language Poetry, Creative Non-Fiction Children & Young People categories. Welsh language winners, revealed on Radio Cymru, include Megan Angharad Hunter (Fiction) and Marged Tudur (Poetry).
The folks behind the Street Food Circus enterprise, which has parked up in various south Wales locations this summer, are hosting the regional precursor to the British Street Food Awards. The Welsh heat takes place in Roath Yard, Cardiff on Sat 7 and Sun 8 Aug and features seven Welsh food trucks rustling up meals for Sam and Shauna from Barry’s BBQ joint Hang Fire – the designated judges. The chosen septet are Janet’s Authentic Northern Chinese Restaurant, Pwdin (puddings), Keralan Karavan (Indian), Tukka Tuk (Indian), Hot Damn Beer + Wings, Fire & Flank (steak) and Frango Charcoal Chicken (Portugese); two of those will go through to the UK final, which is in Hull from Fri 3-Sun 5 Sept.
Having returned to the fray in fine fashion at the beginning of July, Welsh storytelling festival Beyond The Border has also shared its plans to create and maintain a collaborative network, with the aim of collectively helping the artform to flourish. Named in reference to the underground fungal roots which, while almost imperceptibly tiny, can stretch for miles, the Mycelium Story Hub has been funded by Arts Council Wales and will also incorporate National Eisteddfod Wales, Menter Iaith, People Speak Up, Citrus Arts and Head4Arts. It will run initially for two years, though with the view to creating a viable storytelling network that lasts for much longer.
Inkspot is a cool looking space somewhere round the Roath/Splott border, in a converted church but generally a little bit mysterious to the average bear. On Sat 7 Aug, it’s having an open day so people can come and check out its nooks and crannies and, perhaps, be inspired to get involved in some way. The people behind this are New Era Talent, a collective founded last year by Cardiff drum’n’bass MC Missy G and which runs workshops and sessions with a view to building the careers of young people in the dance/hip-hop/r’n’b industry. They’re also running a crowdfunder for the venue to help it get back earnings lost during lockdown.
A group of Cardiff-based artists and creatives are working to brighten up its heart in August under the banner of PWSH, a street art project. Working with FOR Cardiff, PWSH curator Rachel Kinchin has enlisted an eight-strong team, including a photographer and videographer as well as the artists who’ll be wielding brushes and pens about town. The ulterior aim of the project is to celebrate the unrestricted return of social activity in Cardiff, indeed Wales in general, with nearly all COVID-related restrictions being removed as of Sat 7 Aug. A statement from the PWSH team includes an emphasis on accessibility and diversity, as well as the intention of this pilot project returning in years to come.
For what one imagines are perfectly valid reasons, the date mentioned above as conferring quote-unquote freedom upon Wales has not yet led to a deluge of live music announcements. However, four of Cardiff city centre’s quote-unquote grassroots venues are taking over Cardiff Castle over the August bank holiday weekend, one evening at a time, in a venture cooked up by the council and Cardiff Music Board. Clwb Ifor Bach, Fuel, the Moon and Porters – all of whom have had their existence somewhat endangered in the last few years – are the joints taking part, with Clwb’s bill of Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, Panic Shack and The Bug Club opening on Fri 27 Aug. The theatrically-inclined Porters have picked Yasmine & The Euphoria, Year Of The Dog and Lunar Bird for Sat 28, while Fuel assemble Those Damn Crows, Cardinal Black and Scarlet Rebels on Sun 29. Finally, Mon 30 sees The Moon with Afro Cluster, Niques and a DJ set from The Allergies.
As noted in last month’s Roundup, Wales-based art prize Artes Mundi broke with convention for 2021 by awarding this year’s edition jointly to all six shortlisted. However, one of that sextet, India’s Prabhakar Pachpute, has been selected for the Purchase Prize, which is sponsored by the Derek Williams Trust and retains one or more of the chosen artist’s works for National Museum Wales’ permanent collection. Two of Pachpute’s pieces, Rattling Knot and The Close Observer, are currently displayed on the walls (as in, the actual walls) of the museum’s gallery area, as part of the Artes Mundi group show that runs until Sun 5 Sept.
Long-brewing plans for a large-scale, multi-use arena for Cardiff Bay were made more definitive earlier this month, with Cardiff Council publishing an overview on the link above. The Arena, as it’s currently titled presumably pending naming rights, forms the centrepiece of extensive development in Atlantic Wharf, with the Red Dragon Centre to be demolished. The proposed 15,000 capacity will put it in a tier with the likes of Wembley Arena, in terms of the acts suited to performing there, and with the potential to scale down to around a quarter of that size where appropriate, it seems likely to render the 7,500-capacity Motorpoint Arena in the city centre obsolete, although that venue’s owners have made no commitment in that regard. According to the website, completion of the arena and adjacent hotel is slated for 2025.
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More arty prizegiving is on the horizon, specifically Thurs 2 Dec, when Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre will livestream an evening of performances and films and award £1,000 prizes to six Welsh art organisations, plus a £2,500 prize for one overall winner. (The website, at present, mulls the possibility of “a small number of guests” being able to attend should restrictions permit, which might feel overly cautious as of late July but who knows what the vagaries of virality have in store for us.) As per the organisers’ name, businesses from Wales are also recognised, with certificates given to chosen private sector companies and an award for “adviser of the year” also up for grabs.
South Wales music journalist Kevin McGrath is in the process of securing the contributions of (mostly) Welsh artists for a compilation album raising funds for the Velindre Cancer Centre. Titled V4Velindre, McGrath is aiming to get around 20 acts for a digital release available to buy through the regular channels; all proceeds from sales will go to Velindre, although it’s pitched as a tribute to the NHS in general, and the gruelling efforts of its staff during the course of the pandemic. Confirmed at the time of writing are Armstrong, Bandicoot, Burning Ferns, Dan Bettridge, Family Jools, Head Noise, The Honest Poet, Jodie Marie, Simon Love, That Forgotten Band and The Wedding Present; follow progress on McGrath’s blog, linked above.