February Monthly Meetup – Creative Region!

February Monthly Meetup – Creative Region!

PROJECTS  > FEBRUARY 2024 MONTHLY MEETUP

4theRegion Monthly Meetup – Creative Region!

Creative Monthly Meetup

What are the opportunities for the creative sector in South West Wales?

Creativity and the creative sector encompass a wide variety of practices, including architecture, culture, broadcasting, digital, and writing.  We’re looking for opportunities in the creative world for businesses in South West Wales to THRIVE.

South Wales as a whole is experiencing a huge boom in opportunities, particularly in the creative sector and in the Cardiff area. It’s exciting to see the growth, but it might be that South West Wales isn’t quite getting it’s fair share of activity, so what can we do to strengthen the sector here?

Catch up on the full recording below, or review the notes from this event:

 

Meeting Highlights & Notes

To set the scene and connect to a sense of purpose, we asked the question: Why does this matter to you, and why does it feel important? Here are some key points people shared:

  • Creative industries often offer work-based qualifications. One of these is Educ8 Training, which offers work-based qualifications fully funded by the Welsh Government.

  • Creativity can be a great initiative to get involved in collaboration, the amount of resources is amazing. You can achieve a lot by working together. The creative sector can be a very lonely place if you work alone.
  • No business succeeds on its own. You need clients. We all feed off each other. We thrive off of relationships with others. Understanding what’s out there is a fundamental part of being a successful business.
  • How can we bring creativity into our working practices to drive higher productivity and a happier workforce?
  • The beauty of Swansea and West Wales is that we’re prepared to work together and network. Going east towards Cardiff may be a bit more competitive. Collaboration and working as a community makes us stronger.
  • We should understand what’s needed to encourage students who study here to stay and work within the region.  Keeping talent here in our region and encouraging them recognise the opportunities on our doorstep is important.
  • We all need creativity, no matter what line of work we’re in.

Participants

A wide range of organisations and businesses were represented at this event:

  • Art of Balanced Life
  • Bauer Media
  • Bevan Buckland
  • Big Ideas Wales
  • Cwm Arian
  • Dynamic Development
  • e-development
  • Educ8 Training
  • elysium Gallery
  • Focus Futures
  • Future Clarity
  • Future Generations Commissioner’s Office Wales
  • Green Light Technology Solutions
  • Haverhub
  • iNNOVATION Photography
  • Omni Marketing Agency
  • Planed
  • Plantasia Tropical Zoo
  • Severn Screen
  • Solar Wheel
  • Stori Cymru
  • Swansea Council
  • Swansea University
  • Taliesin
  • Urban Foundry
  • UWTSD
  • Waters Creative
  • World Horizons
  • Yr Egin

Regeneration

    • The new Swansea city developments indicate that the city is successfully developing during a time and climate where other areas are neglected.
    • Lots of opportunities can come out of regeneration and developments across the region.
    • The creative sector has historically been a purpose of regeneration. We need to be careful not to stifle creativity or not lead it down a forced path. Grassroots projects can make a tangible difference.

    Education, Skills and Work

    • Educ8 Training offers work-based training, fully funded by the Welsh Government.
    • There’s more desire for young people to take a risk and set up their businesses.
    • Based in SA1, UWTSD’s Innovation Matrix offers an incubation space for student start-ups. The opportunities that the Innovation Matrix offers are vital for growing enterprises. The Innovation Matrix also offers the highest rate of start-ups in the UK.
    • Big Ideas Wales supports people aged 16-25 years of age.  They can assist in supporting young people through their entrepreneurship journey.
    • CEMET supports businesses with access to R&D, software, and hardware development. They have extensive experience with a wide range of creative and innovative technologies.
    • Focus Futures, delivered by Business in Focus, provides a mixture of support, guidance and opportunity around self-employment and enterprise. 

    “Networking is a big thing. We need to start shouting about creative entrepreneurs and start to show that artists aren’t just walking around with a flat cap and a dog on a string. The beauty of Swansea and West Wales is that we’re prepared for collaboration.”

    Collaboration

      • Cartref Creative is a newly launched creative network that covers the region.

      • We’re seeing local businesses use one another more, keeping the spending in the region.

      • Taliesin with Elysium has been hosting the Swansea Young Musicians Network, providing a space for young people to engage and connect through music. 

      • A lot is happening at Yr Egin involving film and digital media. You can view the upcoming events here.

      “If our creative sector was thriving it wouldn’t be so hard to find creative talent/professionals for our business.”

      If our creative sector was thriving…what would that look like for you?

      • More opportunities becoming available for young talent.
      • Less struggles with finding commercially-based staff with creative talent in the region.
      • There would be more creatives in the board room.
      • Get creatives who use co-working spaces more involved in the planning and design stages of projects.
      • Everyone would be working together.
      • There would be a Universal Creative Income. 
      • People would develop a sense of place, find value in their communities, and feel a sense of pride for staying after graduation to be a part of a thriving creative community.
      • Every town should have a creative quarter where creativity can thrive!  Large disused buildings could become hubs for creative people to come together and collaborate. 
      • We need to feel like collaborators and friends rather than competitors.
      • There’s a relationship that happens between local businesses and creatives.  The cafes, record shops, galleries, etc are all places for creativity to happen.
      • Creatives don’t always know how to make an income using their talent, there should be more opportunities for people to learn how to sell themselves.

      Thank you to everyone who attended! We found this meeting to be a very exciting discussion about the year ahead, and we believe that South West Wales is full of opportunities. We will be going in-depth across a range of topics going forward, so please click here to see future events.

      If you are a 4theRegion member and would like to speak at future events, please email lydia@4theregion.org.uk.

      It’s Your Swansea

      It’s Your Swansea

      Last week we hosted our It’s Your Swansea Conference. Let’s have a look back on an incredible day showcasing everything that’s great about Swansea and hearing from the people, organisations and businesses who are making change happen.

      Swansea Arena playing host to our It’s Your Swansea Conference, 7th March 2024 (Pic: Innovation Photography)

      The conference opened with exciting announcements and updates from key local partners, exploring how Swansea is addressing the challenges of our time and embracing opportunities in 2024.

      Cllr Andrea Lewis, Joint Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Service Transformation at Swansea Council, gave an exclusive insight into the schemes that will make Swansea an even better place  to live, work and socialise. She said “Swansea is a real city of opportunity. These are exciting times.”

      These opportunities include a major new high tech sustainable office development at 71/72 Kingsway, linked to the “living building” at Picton Yard, one of the greenest buildings in Wales; the transformation of a former BHS store into a new community hub; redeveloping the Civic Centre site for leisure and hospitality; redeveloping old buildings such as the Palace Theatre and Albert Hall; transforming Castle Square to be greener and more welcoming; and much more!

      Perhaps the most exciting thing is the £4bn renewable energy project, potentially including a tidal lagoon, a battery farm to store renewable energy generated, a floating solar panel facility, an oceanic and climate change research centre, eco-homes anchored in the water, and a hyperscale data centre.

      Cherrie Bija is CEO of Faith in Families, who have been providing skills and opportunities such as free breakfast and sports for kids for the last twenty five years.

      Faith in Families have been approached by Amazon with opportunity to run a warehouse which was something they had never done before. They take Amazon’s surplus goods and give them to people, such as shirts for interviews. In fact they can provide pretty much everything you need for a home. Parents aren’t buying things like toothpaste because of cost of living crisis, so Faith in Families can provide them with dignity. 

      They have launched Cwtch Mawr, Wales’ first multibank, which aims to identify and help forty thousand familes this year. Giving them brand new items says to them “You’re worth it, we believe in you”. Forty thousand items were given out on two days over Christmas. They put coats out and said “Please take a coat because we need the space”. It was several days before people were actually taking them, but they gave out fifty coats, as well as things  like brand new football boots for children. They can provide all the things that turn houses into homes.

      Serena Jones is Executive Director of Operations at Coastal Housing Group, who provide safe, affordable, quality homes that meet sustainability targets. She said they are “working hard to address the deepest housing crisis I’ve seen in thirty years. The systemic challenges are real and biting, but it’s good the Welsh Government understand link between housing and climate change.” She believes “Sustainability is also about people.”

      Coastal Housing have installed hybrid heating systems in their properties leading to a 70% reduction in energy bills, volumetric water cylinders resulting in a 38% energy decrease (which can be overriden for hot water if needed), solar PV with sensors to see their impact, and apps to monitor carbon monoxide and general indoor air quality.

      Professor Ian Walsh, is Provost (Swansea & Cardiff) at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, which is currently ranked as the top university in the UK for active graduate businesses. It was a fascinating update. Did you know work at the university has transformed the way we repair windscreens on cars? UWTSD”s latest building, the Innovation Matrix, will be as close as possible to net zero, but can’t get there completely because of the computers. It already has about a 70% occupancy and will be opening in June, providing an ecosystem where businesses can thrive.

      We heard from young people who are seizing the opportunities on offer here in Swansea, and inspiring others to do the same.

      Amy Tanker has volunteered with a number of organisations. As a Psychology & Criminology Student at Swansea University, she was particularly keen to volunteer with Families and Friends of Prisoners Swansea. Not all prisons have family services like this, so volunteering with them meant she had social policy research opportunities and was able to get an internship.

      Saadia Abubaker, Founder of Saadia Speaks, wants to empower the next generation of leaders. Born in Sudan, she moved to Swansea age two. Growing up, she experienced a lot of racism, but seized all the opportunities she could. She joined the Youth Sports Trust to encourage more girls like her to do sports, and now uses the same approach to build her brand. She said “People are not always supportive of my ideas, but if one organisation says no to me another will say yes.” She asked “Will you join me in inspiring the next generation of leaders?”

      Fatima Lopes said “I grown up here my whole life. In school I couldn’t wait to leave because I didn’t know the opportunities that were here.” She said working as Student Union President at Gower College Swansea has made her aware of of those opportunities, and she will be going to Swansea University.

      She said “During Covid, I was in year 10 and 11, and this is when I’d normally do work experience, so I didn’t get this. Students are now more hesistant to embrace opportunities because of lockdown.”

      She’d like a sector wide approach on business and schools linking together, similar to Cardiff Commitment. She said students are very passionate and this can be harnessed with clubs and societies. She’d like something similar for people in work. This should be combined with mental health support for people in work and education.

      She chose to go down an academic route, but if she’d done an apprenticeship, believes she would have faced stigma and a lack of knowledge, and this needs to change.

      In celebration of International Women’s Day, we also welcomed four women to share their stories of overcoming challenges and embracing opportunities in Swansea.

      In school Alison Vickers, Managing Partner at Bevan Buckland, knew she wanted to be an accountant (or a detective). In 1986 she got a three month trial with Bevan Buckland, earning less than £400 a month. She rose up through the company and in 1996 joined the board of what was still a very traditional practice. One of her first acts was to end the ban on women wearing trousers! Bevan Buckland now employs a hundred and twenty people and are the biggest independent accountants in Wales. Alison said being based in Swansea hasn’t held them back. She’s learnt everything new is an opportunity, prepare well, and enjoy it!

      Joy Ogeh-Hutfield, a Transformation Coach and Leadership Consultant, sees opportunity everywhere. She said “Sight is seeing things as they are, but vision is seeing how things should be. Having a vision means the city has something to give back to you. Gain more clarity by thinking about how your vision can bring change. My greatest joy helping clients understand their true authentic self. Invest in you, because if your cup is empty you have nothing to give. Enhance what you are and what you do.” She added “Teachers open the doors but you must enter by yourself.”

      Eight years ago Amy Price, Director at The Social Butterfly Marketing, was a job jumper with bad mental health. She’d never learnt about self employment in school and was in in-work poverty. She said it was very strange attending her first networking event while still working in a call centre, it was “lonely being the youngest business woman in the room, but I’ve grown and I pick up awards in front of those people.” She feels she now lives a good life and doesn’t want to sacrifice more.

      Her advice is “Stay in your own lane. Life is full of unique challenges, some days are harder than others, but just try your best.” She believes women are more resilient and risk adverse than men, and have a lot of side hustles but don’t see this as business. She said “I still have imposter syndrome and accept anxiety is a part of me. This year I finally felt I run proper business. I say yes to any opportunity Swansea presents to me and know this helps my mental health.”

      Everything Kim Mamhende, Chief Officer of The CAE, does is about empowering people. For her it’s about change in the community, and underpinning that is equity and ensuring everyone has opportunity to do what they want.

      She believes everyone has right to live their dreams, and the Welsh dream is achieving what you want without having to move, which is also being about equity and opportunity. She said “Opportunity is about creating. You can’t wait for a seat at the table sometimes you need to create your own table. Entrepreneurship is about adding value, creating your own opportunities and enacting positive change. It’s not always an easy journey.”

      This year, we’re exploring even more of the region where we’ll be welcoming everyone to the following It’s Your… Events, so make sure to save the dates!

      It’s Your Pembrokeshire, 8th May, Queens Hall Narberth

      It’s Your Carmarthenshire, 11th July, Yr Egin

      It’s Your Neath Port Talbot, 12th September, Blancos Hotel

      Cartref Creative — A New Network for Creatives

      Cartref Creative — A New Network for Creatives

      Cartref Creative held its first event on Wednesday the 24th of January at the Urban Kitchen in Swansea. Cartref Creative is a new network for creatives that was born out of conversations at the 4theRegion conference in 2023.

      The network is a home for creatives that aims to create spaces – both digital and physical – where creatives across the region can meet, socialise, learn and collaborate. It was founded by digital creator James Dovey, graphic designer Alice Jones, writer and producer Roger Williams, filmmaker James Owen of Stori, creative problem solver Lee Bazalgette and director of Waters Creative, Rachael Wheatley.

      The team have wrestled with how a network for creatives across west Wales should operate and have designed Cartref Creative to be a movement that will evolve to meet the needs and desires of the creative community over time.

      Cartref Creative is run by creatives. This is one of the principles that makes Cartref Creative different. Creatives will set the agenda and realise the initiatives. Live events will happen in different locations across west Wales and across creative disciplines.

      The digital platform will offer a place for individuals to promote their work and there will be a library of resources to inspire and educate.

      At the Urban Kitchen event, three creative leaders from west Wales spoke about their experience of running a creative initiative. Richard Davies of Parthian Books, Brigid Loizou of art gallery Studio Cennen in Llandeilo, and Alun Jones of the digital agency Libera, shared the story of how they started and grew their operations and spoke of the challenges and opportunities of running their businesses in west Wales.

      The event was sponsored by Sky Ad Smart, and Peter Roberts and Huw Potter spoke of how their operation works and how creatives might be able to work in partnership with them to create content for advertisers.

      The Cartref Creative team invite creatives living in south-west Wales to sign up to the mailing list by going to www.cartrefcreative.cymru and would like to invite individuals interested in becoming an organiser of events to get in touch.

      Rhwydwaith i bobl greadigol sy’n byw yn ne orllewin Cymru yw Cartref Creative. Bydd y grwp yn creu gofodau – digidol a go iawn – ar gyfer crewyr sydd eisiau cyfarfod, cymdeithasu, dysgu a chydweithio. Bydd y platfform digidol yn safle we sy’n hyrwyddo gwaith yr aelodau ac yn cyhoeddi adnoddau addysgol ac ysbrydoledig.

      Yn y digwyddiad byw cyntaf yn Abertawe ym mis Ionawr buodd y cyhoeddwr Richard Davies o Parthian Books, Brigid Loizou o Studio Cennen yn Llandeilo ac Alun Jones o’r asiantaeth ddigidol Libera yn trafod eu busnesau a’r heriau sy’n eu hwynebu nhw. Noddwyd y digwyddiad gan Sky Ad Smart.

      Mae Cartref Creative yn awyddus i drefnu digwyddiadau yn y Gymraeg. Os hoffech ymuno â ni yn y daith ewch at www.cartrefcreative.cymru

      Creativity in Swansea: An Update from the Swansea Conference

      Creativity in Swansea: An Update from the Swansea Conference

      An initiative to create a new creative network for Swansea was announced at this year’s Swansea Conference in a panel discussion that also explored the city’s cultural assets and how to make the most of them. Read on to find out more.

      Local Arts

      The second panel session of the Swansea Conference on March 29 focussed on creativity in Swansea: its benefits for the city and how to support its growth and development.

      Introducing the session, Professor Ian Walsh, academic lead on UWTSD’s Innovation Matrix, emphasised the strength of the arts scene in the region.

      “It’s a welcoming scene, it’s an open scene, it’s an inclusive scene,” he said. “Art and Culture has the power to create change – and today, we are probably more than ever people who uphold the values of truth, justice and equality, free expression and the desire to celebrate the joy of being alive. 

      “In Swansea, we have a very vibrant, creative scene bursting with artistic talents – young people, students, graduates, as well as people in every walk of life, who just find passion in making, whether it be physical things, or music, or whatever it might be. Arts and culture are also key to placemaking.”

      Picking up the theme of placemaking, Tracey McNulty, head of Cultural Services at Swansea Council, said that placemaking can include telling the story of a place through mediums such as music or sculpture, or creating a space that people feel comfortable to be in. 

      “Squares quite often get designed to make sure people don’t feel comfortable in them – and artists working with landscape designers and planners can really create solutions,” she said.

      Actor Richard Mylan, one of the founders of Grand Ambition, the arts collective and producing company based at Swansea Grand Theatre, highlighted the importance of telling local people’s stories through the arts.

      “At Grand Ambition, we tell Swansea stories – and the way that we tell Swansea stories is important. We champion the unheard voices; we identify the universality of these stories, and that therefore has a wider impact.”

      Also on the panel was award-winning Welsh-Nigerian contemporary pianist Ify Iwobi, founder and project manager of the Race Council Cymru Crossing Borders Project, which focuses on young ethnic musical and dance participants from around the world in Swansea. She noted that cultural placemaking is vital to keep talent in Wales.

      “Cultural placemaking is key for integrating not just musical culture, but all cultural activities,” she said, adding that it’s important to champion the places in South Wales that showcase the arts. “We need to celebrate Welsh culture and let it not go from Wales to London,” she said.

      Dan Staveley, co-founder of Elysium Gallery and artists’ studios, agreed that it’s vital to keep creative people in Swansea, highlighting Elysium’s work to turn creative people into entrepreneurs. He also praised the collaborative spirit of Swansea’s artistic community.

      “I think Swansea artists are just brilliant – they have an amazing ability to help each other,” he said. “If you bring a lot of loose people together, you can transform places, as High Street has transformed since 2007.”

      James Morgan, Creative Learning Producer at Swansea Arena, said that he would like to see more confidence in what Swansea has to offer.

      “I think we need a bit more positivity when it comes to how we see ourselves and how we put ourselves out there in our cultural landscape in South Wales and across the UK as a whole,” he said.

      Uzo Iwobi, founder of Race Council Cymru

      Race Council Cymru founder Uzo Iwobi emphasised how the covid period showcased the importance of the arts.

      “There were a lot of artists online singing to sustain us all,” she said, adding that it’s important to promote diversity in Swansea’s arts scene.

      “We have a remarkable series of talented people from all over the world who feel attached to Swansea and have a clear Swansea identity, and now is the time to open the doors,” she said. “This is a powerful space; we need to ensure that Chinese people, Filipinos, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, the Thai community, Africans, come together with our white brothers and sisters and begin to have those important conversations and feel involved.”

      The conversation moved onto the importance of planning for stimulating arts and culture. Morgan noted that there are only two places in Swansea for bands to rehearse, but there are about 300 bands in the city. He emphasised the need for developments to incorporate rehearsal space and to make these spaces available all over the city – especially considering that people in poorer areas are less likely to have access to private rehearsal spaces such as garages.

      “An integral part of any young musician’s journey is the opportunity to have a place to rehearse,” he said.

      McNulty emphasised the power and responsibility the Council has to support developers and other bodies seeking to create artistic spaces in the city.

      “it’s my job to influence policy and to really champion the role of arts and culture in regeneration, education and health and wellbeing,” she said.

      Taking questions from the floor, the panel discussed the potential benefits of a Universal Creative Income to keep artists out of poverty and enable them to make work that benefits not only themselves, but also others.

      “A Universal Creative Income would be fantastic. Benefits are not fit for purpose,” said Morgan. “I do believe that it would help many artists who are struggling with poverty.”

      McNulty agreed. 

      “A Universal Creative Income would be a really amazing step recognising the value of arts – the preventative value, saving health authorities thousands of pounds, and the massive role the arts play in championing social and racial justice, and making sure that people understand where they live and how they can look at the world differently,” she said.

      “Working with the lateral thinking of the musician, or a visual artist or a writer will help us to understand some of the biggest problems we’re facing now because they’re just too overwhelming otherwise.”

      Mylan agreed that the value of the arts needs to be better understood.

      “We live in a world where the narrative around the arts is negative from the top down,” he said. “That really boils my blood, because just look at the pandemic: culture and art held us up and held us together.

      “Look at how art feeds into our television and film streaming platforms. I think the issue is that it’s not recognised as it should be from the top. There needs to be a fundamental shift.”

      Creative panel at the Swansea Conference

      The conversation concluded with discussion of calls for a Creative Swansea network connecting the creative community.

      “The notion of a creative network has been circulating again and again and again, with the idea of an arts forum or a shared marketing exchange,” said McNulty. “We have come to the conclusion that the reason we have not got a really solid, clear identity of some sort of forum is because there’s too much diversity within it. 

      “Many people want to be able to influence the music scene and they don’t necessarily want to be talking about what an artist’s studio looks like, or they may want to exhibit but don’t necessarily want to learn digital skills. 

      “Over the months we’ve been having various conversations with both universities as well as partners including 4theRegion about a new Creative Swansea and that would need to be owned by multiple agency approach to own a website and a social media platform.”

      She added that it would include a funded co-ordinator role.

      “I recently put some funding applications together for the coordinator role. I would like the network to be able to have multiple branches and the opportunity for people to uncheck some boxes so that they’re not deluged with information about things that they don’t feel are relevant to them.”

      Supporting Local

      Supporting Local

      At 4theRegion we’ve always been passionate about supporting local.

      Swansea City Centre Conference 2023 Photos

      When we spend our money with big businesses, most of it leaves our local economy and lines the pockets of distant shareholders. When we spend our money with a local small business, it creates benefits for local people, and recirculates in our economy, where it has a much more positive social impact.

      Perhaps the most important thing for supporting independent retail in Swansea is for more of us to make the effort to support local whenever we can. How can people, businesses and organisations across Swansea collaborate to promote the cause of our local businesses?

      This is why “Supporting Local” is the theme for our Swansea Conference. Last year we hosted the first major conference at the newly opened Swansea Arena, and we’re so excited to be back there once again on March 29th!

      We’ll have a regeneration update from Rob Stewart, leader of Swansea Council, and major partners, about all the exciting development projects currently underway and coming soon. This’ll include news of the successful Leveling Up bid that will see significant investments in the Lower Swansea Valley and an update from Urban Splash, the development partner on the Seafront and other strategic sites across Swansea.

      Swansea Council has said it wants as much work from regeneration projects go to Welsh businesses as possible. And it was good to see a regional firm like Ministry of Furniture be one of the first businesses to benefit from a project to redevelop Oxford Street’s former BHS and What! store into a new city centre community hub. Ministry of Furniture has been appointed to design the furniture and fixtures scheme, working on the contract with the council and main contractors Kier Construction. Ministry of Furniture worked for the council on the most recent fit out of the Civic Centre, largely with remanufactured furniture. As a boost to the circular economy, they aim to move the majority of that apparatus to the new hub.

      Many people across our communities are struggling to afford healthy food for their families, an unacceptable situation that’s been compounded by the cost of living crisis. So what needs to happen to make healthy, affordable and locally produced food available to everyone in Swansea? How can we connect people to where their food comes from, and how to grow and cook it?

      GRAFT is a garden and workshop, based at the National Waterfront Museum, working with local communities, schools and adult learners to grow food, preserve seeds, keep bees, and learn cooking skills in a clay oven. Volunteers are invited to join an intergenerational curriculum of outdoor learning, wellbeing and making connected to food. All of the garden’s infrastructure has been built by the team and participants who are learning woodwork and metalwork skills, alongside horticulture.

      Farmers across our region face a huge number of challenges in a vulnerable and uncertain sector. The farming industry needs to substantially change to address the climate and nature emergencies, but farmers often feel unfairly blamed or misunderstood by people in towns and cities. How can proactively engage with local farmers to understand their challenges and how they can be better supported? Creating links between farms and local communities and customers is essential to relocalising our food supply chains and creating a resilient food system for Swansea.

      Public sector procurement is often recognised as a key lever for change, with the potential to provide a steady and reliable market for locally produced food and drink. The Welsh Government has launched a new initiative meant to encourage more local spending on food by the NHS, schools and local government. But change isn’t happening fast enough. What are the challenges around putting more local food on the public plate – in hospitals, schools and other settings – and how can we overcome them?

      At the Swansea Conference, Bwyd Abertawe, a local community based food partnership, will be launching the Swansea Food Charter, as part of their effort to get everyone working together towards making Swansea to become a Sustainable Food Place, where healthy, local and  affordable food is available to everyone, promoting the wellbeing of people and the planet.

      At 4theRegion we believe that the creative industries present a huge opportunity for jobs, entrepreneurship, regeneration and wellbeing across Swansea. By investing in creativity we can breathe new life into our high streets and town centres. How can we make sure there are opportunities here in Swansea for people to develop rewarding careers, and build successful businesses, in the creative, digital, arts and cultural sectors?

      People in Swansea have an amazing mindset and willingness to help each other out. Elysium have over 100 studios they can rent out across 4 buildings in Swansea. They started off in messy art painting and now have photography studios, TV broadcasters and other creative industries using the space. If you look at creative projects in other cities, there are lots of disparate studios that are always competing. We don’t seem to have that as much in Swansea. Of course, not everyone knows what’s here! How can we better promote and connect all the good stuff that’s happening, to strengthen the sector and engage more people in the arts?

      How can we make sure that Swansea retains (and develops) a vibrant and diverse mix of independent retailers, in the face of huge competition from big name brands and online shopping? To survive and thrive as an independent retail business, entrepreneurs need to adopt innovative strategies that set them apart from the global competition. So how can local businesses in Swansea embrace technology?

      Russell Greenslade, Chief Executive of Swansea BID, has said the majority of the independent businesses Swansea BID has supported in opening in the city centre in the past 18 months have a very strong digital channel presence.

      He said “The strength of the independent business is being nimble enough to respond to trends and situations with instant decision capability. They can be better placed to find their niche, innovate, have more power over profitability, provide a personalised experience, and be their own boss.

      “As businesses, we operate in different and more challenging environments since bouncing back from a global pandemic and now the cost-of-living crisis. The challenges include staying relevant as customers evolve, embracing online shopping and harnessing the power of digital to help overcome challenges. Using technology to analyse our customer data, we can adapt accordingly to put customers first and use digital, data, technology and the intelligence they provide to improve the experience and anticipate customer needs enabling business growth.”

      The Swansea Conference & Exhibition is going to be an unmissable day. If you haven’t yet booked your free ticket, please take a moment to do it now! There’ll be over 120 exhibition stands showcasing local businesses and community organisations, interactive exhibitions from the universities, Oriel Science, and Plantasia, opportunities to meet local companies, and a Youth Voice area celebrating some amazing young people. Find out about local job opportunities, meet new suppliers, pick up lots of free goodies, and feel proud of the people and organisations that make Swansea great! There’s something for everyone!

      Swansea Creative Focus 2022

      Swansea Creative Focus 2022

      Swansea Creative Focus 2022

      Swansea Creative Focus exists to connect people, share updates on what’s happening, and co-create new projects and initiatives related to the creative sector in Swansea.

      At 4theRegion we still believe that the creative industries present a huge opportunity for jobs, entrepreneurship, regeneration and wellbeing across Swansea.

      We know that many partners across the city, and many creative people, are working to make the vision of Swansea as a creative, digital and cultural hotspot, a reality!

      After a three year gap, we reconvened Swansea Creative Focus at Elysium Bar and Gallery with the aim to connect the dots and find out what is needed, what’s happening and how we can promote and increase creative enterprise across the city.

      Event Themes

      Actions and Ideas

      • Invest in making a digital hub for the area and have an enthusiastic, salaried, creative administrator to seek out opportunities, collect them and not let them die out.
      • Take a Pan-Wales approach to a creative network, where all regions are treated equally. No working in silos.
      • “The best ideas come through circular, community oriented groups. I want Swansea to thrive creatively like other cities such as Bristol.”
      • More creative spaces would be useful for networking, exploring creative opportunities, workshops and could be a platform to share resources and knowledge.
      • We need a creative hub, a central space where people can work together, run social events and give out information, just to make sure it reaches the largest audience it can.
      • An open mic night, similar to a show and tell where you just jump on and ask ‘can someone help me with this?’ could be a good way to network and share knowledge.
      • Let’s connect our creativity to whole new audiences and really create that groundswell of interest.
      • There’s a huge enthusiasm for the idea of connecting the creative community in the region.
      • With so many people having ideas and wanting to do something, translating this into action is the biggest challenge. We’re wiser having these types of meetings and is an important part of the process.
      • People in Swansea have an amazing mindset and willingness to help each other out. If you look at creative projects in other cities, there are lots of disparate studios that are always competing. We don’t seem to have that as much in Swansea.
      • Creative Cardiff works on the world stage, are doing great things and are visible. We need Swansea to also be on the world stage and enable us as a city to tap into a lot more opportunities.

      Education and Opportunities

      • We need to educate our future creatives about the opportunities in the sector.
      • People need to have opportunities without having to leave the area!
      • We need to help students as they leave university. That first year is critical for people to decide whether they stay or leave Swansea. We need them to stay and keep them here in order for creativity to thrive.
      • Everyone needs to be able to access mentorship, employment, collaboration, support and advice.
      • Education has been all about STEM subjects. Why is it just STEM? It should be STEAM, we put an ‘A’ in it, because we need art in there.
      • There’s a great potential and gap for creative activities and companies here.
      • We know there are opportunities out there, but unless you hear about them, you may not know what channels to go through to get to it.
      • We need to harness the capacity of digital technology. We work around it all the time, we just need the capacity to make it reachable and comfortable, so that it’s routine.

      Businesses

      • All companies need creative people, not just the creative sector
      • The best ideas come through circular, community-oriented groups. I want Swansea to thrive creatively like other cities such as Bristol.
      • We need to support entrepreneurial opportunities for artists.
      • Creative people really need to come to the forefront, to show us what they’re made of and how they feed into all sort of industries.

      • All companies need creative people, not just creative companies.

      Wellbeing

      • Creativity is fundamental to being human. We should use creativity for wellbeing.
      • Art is used by many people as a healing process and also as a way to tackle community isolation.
      • Once you bring disparate groups together, you create opportunities for shared learning and peer to peer support.
      • Our USP should be “Community Kindness”
      • Blending different communities, cultures and ensuring that creative practice is accessible to a diverse range of people is vital.

      Video Features

      Next Steps

      We really believe that the creative sector has a big role to play, in creating opportunities for young people, in making Swansea and the wider region a vibrant place to live, and in pooling skills and talent for the benefit of local communities!

      We’re keen to keep this conversation going and to uncover opportunities to ensure that Swansea develops and thrives as a creative city. 4theRegion aims to join the dots and amplify, support and connect what’s already happening in the region.

      Email Zoe@4theRegion.org.uk with the subject line “Creative Focus” if you have any projects or opportunities you would like to share with us. Also please make you are subscribed to the 4theRegion newsletter and Eventbrite profile to be notified of any future events!