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Contemporary Cyfarwyddion and producers appointed to support the future of storytelling in Wales – The Mycelium Storytelling Hub.

The Mycelium Storytelling Hub has appointed three storytellers as Contemporary Cyfarwyddion and two producers as part of its exciting new Wales wide collaboration programme between freelancers and organisations, supported by Arts Council Wales’ Connect and Flourish fund.

The Mycelium Story Hub is a network of organisational and freelancer partners, committed to sharing practice & nurturing less frequently heard stories from across Wales’ diverse communities. The model is inspired by nature’s mycelium networks and includes support for producers and a new role of contemporary Cyfarwyddion.

Beyond the Border, National Eisteddfod, People Speak Up, Menter Iaith and Citrus Arts, along with individual storytellers and community members, Head4Arts and Theatre Soar, will all be working to ensure the future of the storytelling sector in Wales.

We had so many wonderful applications for the first round of our Mycelium Story Hub, and it was a difficult decision. However, the four new roles whose postholders we are announcing today are each bringing something remarkable to the positions of Cyfarwyddion and Producer. I’m delighted that Mair Tomos Ifans will be working in Welsh and with some bilingual communities too. We have two brilliant producers in Rhian Davies and Cathy Boyce – Cathy will be returning to her roots in the Valleys and Rhian will making opportunities for more storytelling in Mid-Wales. Finally, we have a shared role between Jo Munton and Nia Llywelyn, who will be working with the Welsh learners’ community across Wales. I’m convinced their work will be responsive, exciting, will take risks, and most importantly will explore what it means to tell stories in contemporary communities.” Engagement Producer for Beyond the Border, Tamar Eluned Williams.

Producer, Rhian Davies will be focused on developing activity and events in mid Wales. Rhian said, “I am excited to connect with local communities and storytellers, to listen to tales of new and old, in Welsh and in English and to create a programme of events and workshops to explore stories of the everyday, myths and folklore with people of all ages and levels of storytelling experience.

 

Storyteller Mair Tomos Ifans will also be working in mid Wales. Mair said, “I am overjoyed to have the chance to come together with people in small groups to share all the stories, histories, and traditions of this area; bring out all the stuff in the dusty volumes and the pearls that live in people’s memories, and to summarise in some way; an archive of some sort.

There is a danger that these small local histories will get lost as the structure of communities change. I believe passionately that knowledge of the locations of histories and stories root people; I think it is equally as important as those big myths and legends that are counted as the Welsh “classics”. But the most important thing for me is to encourage people to share and to keep on sharing.”

In South Wales, storytellers, Nia Llywelyn and Jo Munton will be working in South Wales but also hoping to work pan Wales, using the artform to help Welsh learners.

Jo Munton said, “I am totally inspired to be like a tour guide to peoples journeying into the ancient language of Cymraeg and the ancient art of storytelling. And getting people to tell their own stories, or their families, or their versions, of myths and legends. I can say this from personal experience, as a dyslexic I have tried to get my head around my Mamiaith for years (my mum was born in the deep valleys of the Berriew mountains but I grew up near London). I’ve repeated years of classroom lessons, done the brilliant SSIW (Say Something in Welsh) courses; weeks away of Popeth yn Gymreag and Duolingoed like a fiend. All of these have helped but it’s when I started working with Nia on telling the Tales, then it seemed to come to life. So, I’m totally chuffed to be able to have the opportunity to share the tools and techniques I’ve picked up so far and create a space for people to take their own steps into exploring story in Welsh.”

Established producer, Cathy Boyce is passionate to be developing a programme on activity and events in South Wales, with a particular focus on her home village of Glyn Neath, and surrounding Neath Port Talbot, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr counties. Cathy is passionate that this is an opportunity to take storytelling to her roots and develop the next generation of storytelling.

“I grew up in the upper Neath valley and my parents and their parents lived and worked in Glynneath/Hirwaun and the industrial valleys all their lives. Although I left home for the big city (well, Cardiff..) a long time ago, those communities will always feel like home to me. I’m really looking forward help develop a programme of activities that reflects the rich history, culture and political significance of this area; its martyrs and myths, folklore and furnaces.

Among the finest storytellers I have met have are raconteurs holding court past closing time, and a Pen-y –Waun pensioner transfixing me with tales of Matchstick Man Johnny Owen. I am grateful for the Mycelium Hub for giving me the opportunity to play a part in thinking creatively about the role of storytelling in contemporary life and how it can help to connect us.”

“We’re really thrilled to see how Mair, Jo, Nia, Rhian and Cathy develop all the brilliant ideas they presented to the Mycelium Hub, and we are looking forward to supporting them as their residencies develop. It’s wonderful to welcome this full complement of practitioners to the Hub’s first year, including Phil Okwedy and Deb Winter who are Associate Cyfarwyddion with People Speak Up in West Wales. We’re all looking forward to hearing more about the very many fascinating stories we know are out there in our communities as the Mycelium project evolves,” said Beyond the Border’s Artistic Director Naomi Wilds.

The new team members will start developing their programme of activity over the next few months. Phil Okwedy and Deb Winter, the Associate Cyfarwyddion with People Speak Up have already started their programme of activity in West Wales working developing Stories by Phone, in Conversation with PSU’s Men’s Group and stories with Care Homes, with more planned for the next few months.

Supported by

Creative Europe logo
Beyond the Border Partners - Foyle Foundation
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English (UK)