The creation of a new creative network for Swansea and South West Wales, similar to Creative Cardiff, will be discussed at the Swansea Conference at Swansea Arena on March 29. Details of a new, digitally enhanced reimagining of the successful Creative Bubble project will also be announced.
One of the conference’s five zones is the Creative and Digital Zone, and this will be a focal point for meetings and discussions for people and organisations involved in the creative scene in Swansea.
The conference will bring updates on new creative and digital facilities coming to the city, including the Innovation Matrix, which will be delivered by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) in partnership with Swansea Bay City Deal, creating 3000 sq m of commercial and research space in SA1. The development will house digital businesses, research centres and a new business incubation suite.
Another key announcement will be a reboot of the Creative Bubble project, which was delivered by UWTSD in collaboration with Swansea Business Improvement District (Swansea BID) and brought creative projects into disused commercial space in the city centre.
“We will be taking the Creative Bubble to the next level as a university resource to impact on communities here in Swansea,” said Professor Ian Walsh, Provost of UWTSD’s Swansea and Cardiff Campuses. “The new version will create a digital gateway with opportunities for people to understand what careers they can have in the creative economy and the digital economy and also what training they can access to facilitate that.
He added: “We don’t always realise the riches we have on our doorstep in terms of talent, and it would be great to see more Swansea based companies commissioning other Swansea-based companies to carry out major creative and digital projects.”
With this in mind, Jenny Hill, Learning Area Manager for Creative Arts & Humanities at Gower College Swansea (GCS), set up the GCS Creative Industries Employer Board to reduce the gap between education and employability (Creative Sector) within the region.
The board allows those involved in the creative sector to network and establish how they can work together for everyone’s best interest.
Discussions at the conference will address a possible new creative network for Swansea and South West Wales similar to Creative Cardiff, a network that works to share Cardiff’s creative economy locally and globally through research, mapping and projects with industry and academia. Swansea’s equivalent would build on, and unite, existing projects ranging from the GCS Creative Industries Employer Board to the upcoming, reimagined Creative Bubble.
Jenny Hill welcomed the prospect.
“I would like to see this happen, but with a clear remit and direction in terms of what it would hope to achieve and how, and how it will be different to current creative networks in the region, for example Creative Wales, or our own Creative Industries Employer Board and Design Swansea,” she said.
Rachael Wheatley, founder of Swansea-based creative agency Waters Creative, is chair of The Creative Industries Employer Board at Gower College Swansea, and organiser of Design Swansea, a free monthly event which includes inspiring talks, workshops and social events for creative professionals and students around the Swansea Bay City Region. She, too, welcomed the prospect of a new, unifying creative network.
“The creative industry in our region needs all the exposure we can get for it,” she said. “We want the creative industry as a whole to go from strength to strength. Our local creative talent pool, simply put, is immense and very exciting. We just need to shout about it more.
“There are a quite a few creative events in the region, but it is very much segmented at present, it would be fantastic to bring all these together somehow in a creative agenda. We can achieve so much more collectively.”
Discussions at the conference will also address the importance of placing equity and inclusion at the heart of any new creative network – a priority welcomed by Professor Uzo Iwobi, chief executive of Race Council Cymru.
“Most of the creative contributions of Black Asian and minority ethnic people are not included or utilised in arts venues and productions as they ought to be,” she said. “We need more visibility for all protected characteristics creatives in the region; more inclusion and active practising of antiracism.”
Tracey McNulty, Swansea Council’s Head of Cultural Services, also supports the proposals for a new creative network:
“Our creative sector has an energy and identity that sets it up for success,” she said. “There’d be even more optimism if our creative industries and cultural offers could be helped with more investment in skills, training, employment and growth.
“Our city would benefit from a Creative Swansea network such as that in Cardiff, led by the university and partners. There are also wider discussions about a regional network for the sector; with a strong mobilised ‘voice’, Swansea could be well represented in that.”
The Swansea Conference, back at Swansea Arena for the second year running, aims to unite everyone interested in shaping Swansea’s future. It’s delivered by 4theRegion, a membership alliance working to bring about positive change in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.
Dawn Lyle, co-founder and chair of 4theRegion said:
“We have so many exciting topics on the agenda for this year’s conference and there is much to say about the creative and digital future of the region. We hope that discussions at the conference will kickstart an exciting new creative network for Swansea. It will also be an important opportunity to learn about the transformative projects that are already underway.”
Anyone interested in exhibiting at the Swansea Conference can contact Zoe Antrobus: firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information can be found here: https://www.4theregion.org.uk/swansea-city-centre-conference-2023/
You can book tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/507366716507