The Trebanog Project: Creative community comes to life

Date posted: July 6, 2017

The Capital Creative project involving the redevelopment of the green space around a community centre in Trebanog was announced on Monday, July 3rd. The announcement follows 2 years of work and creative conversations with the community; a truly collaborative project where physical and social regeneration meet.

Eleanor Davis, Project Manager, said: “It’s Art But It’s Not has offered a unique and valuable opportunity for people in Trebanog, of all ages and backgrounds, to take part in conversations and influence the development of their new green space at Waun Wen Community Centre – by building dens, sharing food, going for walks and making a space where their voices can be heard.”

The Trebanog Project is part of Its Art But It’s Not, an Ideas: People: Places partnership project created by Artes Mundi, Valleys Kids and Trivallis and funded by the Arts Council of Wales. Through this fund the Arts Council of Wales seeks to explore new ways of working that generate cross sector collaboration, test new ideas and partnerships and inspire communities to re-imagine their environment in a creative and empowered way.

It’s Art But It’s Not was one of seven innovative regeneration projects supported by this initiative. It was launched in 2015 with initial research and development work carried out in Penygraig. This stage, led by Cardiff-based international artist Rabab Ghazoul, was crucial to highlight the real value of the creative conversations as a way of engaging people, giving individuals the space and opportunity to contribute their voice to the process and support our drive towards a self-defining community. Working with young people in the community this work culminated in a visual art installation across the whole town.

In 2015 the partners invited international artists, including the Swansea-based artist Owen Griffiths, Nils Norman, Lucy and Jorge Orta to work with the community of Trebanog and, through creative interventions, explore their hopes and desires for the future.

The project has set up base in a disused infants’ school in the community, which was re-opened to the public by the project last year. Driven by the socially engaged practice of the artist Owen Griffiths, the school now runs weekly sessions with artists, collaborators and teachers. Described as a space for social learning, the school’s curriculum and activities explore making, skill sharing, art production, food and meals. It promotes engagement around land, play, ownership and collaboration, whilst establishing a long-term relationship with the community. This is creating a genuine collaboration (between community, artists and partners) and authoring sustainable opportunities for change.

“I live in a street and I don’t see anyone, so it’s made a difference because you come together and you end up talking to each other, and that makes a real difference to how you feel. It got me out of the house as well and made a real difference to my daughter.” Resident and Parent

“We wouldn’t have done anything like we did here without the project. It’s the first time we’ve done anything as a whole family and not ended up arguing.” Parent and Grandparent

“I’ve seen a difference with some of the kids’ attitudes up here. Where before … they’ve given us attitude, if you ask them now they say ‘oh yes’.” Grandparent

“I’m delighted to see the Trebanog community having access to creative thinking and making opportunities and to work alongside artists and designers. This is an exciting contribution to the visual arts in the area and joins recently established creative ventures such as The Workers Gallery, in Ynyshir, Made in the Valleys and Festyrefail in Tonyrefail.” Anne Hayes, Arts & Creative Industries Manager, Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council.

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