Project Breaks Down Cultural Barriers

Arts project helps people find jobs

A new programme using the arts, culture and heritage to support disadvantaged communities has seen more than 1,500 people take part in activities during its pilot year, helping them to develop skills to improve attainment and find employment. 

From kids taking over museums to helping unemployed men develop skills through archaeology, the Welsh Government’s Fusion: Tackling Poverty through Culture initiative is supporting local authorities and Communities First areas to find new and exciting opportunities to get people who would not normally engage with culture and heritage to give it a go. 

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates, said: “I am proud that Wales is taking the lead in the UK in breaking down the barriers to cultural participation so that everyone can enjoy the benefits. This has been one of my priorities as Deputy Minister and something I feel passionate about. 

“The programme is providing valuable opportunities for people to gain new skills and build confidence, whether it is helping run a museum, taking part in arts and music activities or volunteering. As a result over 500 people have taken part in structured courses and schemes, many leading to accreditation and qualifications.

“This is clearly an approach worth investing in and I am delighted that we are providing funding support which will allow this important scheme to go from strength to strength.”  

Wrexham is one of the Pioneer Areas for the programme, with over 30 local and national partners including Oriel Wrecsam and Literature Wales. It has been working with economically and socially inactive adults in two Communities First Clusters in the county borough, with the aim of increasing aspiration and opportunities and helping to move them through to training and potential employment.

A pop-up library has been piloted to service the Caia Park estate, allowing access to e-library services which can boost literacy and digital inclusion. Art courses have also been delivered, with cultural bodies offering trips and activities to inspire the group, with many participants having never visited these sites before.

Cllr Hugh Jones, Lead Member Communities & Partnerships at Wrexham County Borough Council, said: “Wrexham County Borough Council fully recognises the role that the arts, heritage and culture can play in enriching people’s lives. In Wrexham we have formed a network of key partners from the arts, heritage and cultural sectors around a shared ambition to engage our communities in new opportunities that raise aspirations, skills and ultimately better equip people for securing employment.

"I look forward to the contribution that the Wrexham Fusion Partnership can make as Wrexham embarks on the development of the Creative Arts Hub in the town centre as we continue to demonstrate our commitment to this important area of community life.”   

The Fusion programme was established in response to the Baroness Kay Andrews report on Culture and Poverty, which made a compelling case for joint working to guarantee culture is accessible to all, regardless of their background and where they live. 

Pioneer Areas were established in Swansea, Wrexham, Gwynedd, Cardiff/Merthyr, Newport and Torfaen to pilot the programme. Discussions are underway to increase the number of areas taking part in 2016-17.

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