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Entertainment

Carmarthenshire Theatres digital success

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DESPITE Covid-19 forcing the closure of theatres across the UK over the past year, Carmarthenshire County Council’s theatres have continued to entertain thousands of people every week by embracing digital technology.

Llanelli’s Ffwrnes Theatre has been at the heart of the theatre group’s online endeavours lending itself perfectly to become a studio and base from which to create online shows.

Currently its online channel is attracting almost 22,000 viewers since the first run of digital shows were launched in October.

Since then audiences have been entertained with a number of live shows featuring local artists peaking at over 3,500 viewings in less than 48 hours for one of them.

A vibrant programme of digital shows followed, from online re-imaginings of plays, a streamed story telling series, Christmas and St David’s Day concerts, a virtual firework and light show to a documentary film and even an online art exhibition while its doors have remained closed to the public.

Audiences outside Wales and as far afield as Russia, Poland and USA have also been able to enjoy a taste of Welsh theatre.

Care home residents and staff have also been treated to two free online concerts.

The council’s executive board member for culture, sport and tourism, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths said: “While the restrictions on theatres have been challenging, and we’ve had to learn new skills quickly to be able to produce and stream shows online, one of the positives is seeing the reaction from our regular audience who have really valued having the opportunity to have a taste of the theatre at home. But what’s also been rewarding to see is how we’ve been able to provide theatre online to those hard-to-reach audiences such as care home residents, as well as finding new audiences across the UK and the even the world. It will be interesting to explore how streaming can exist alongside live theatre when we re-open so that we can maintain the new audience we’ve found through our online content and continue to provide digital theatre for those who, for many reasons, be it health or busy lifestyles, find it difficult to get to the theatre in person.”

Earlier this year Ffwrnes Theatre took on a new role as a mass vaccination centre to help with the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine, but filming has still been able to take place in the main auditorium which is not being used for vaccinations.

The Lyric Theatre in Carmarthen has also found itself with a new purpose during the pandemic. Over the last three months Sky has taken over the building as a location to film a movie about the theatre itself. Save The Cinema tells the true story of Liz Evans, a hairdresser and leader of a youth theatre in the town, who began a campaign in 1993 to save the Lyric theatre from closure.   

To find out more about Carmarthenshire Theatre’s online programme and to see what shows are available now, please visit www.theatrausirgar.co.uk or take a look at the theatres’ social media channels.

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Community

Care home residents treated to St David’s Day online concert

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RESIDENTS in care homes across Carmarthenshire are being treated to a free virtual St David’s Day concert.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s theatres have partnered with Loud Applause Productions to produce the online event which will showcase a wealth of Welsh talent on Monday March 1 at 7pm. It will also be free to care home residents in Pembrokeshire.

This is the second time Carmarthenshire Theatres have arranged for care homes in the two counties to access a digital show, with every care home receiving a free copy of a Christmas concert, ‘The West End at Christmas’ over the last festive period.

Filmed at The Ffwrnes Theatre Llanelli, the St David’s Day celebration is a digital 44-minute concert which all audiences can enjoy at home.

It will be presented bilingually by local broadcaster and author, Alun Gibbard and features some traditional Welsh songs that everyone will recognise and enjoy including Ar Hyd Y Nos as well as popular songs from musicals like Bring Him Home from ‘Les Misérables’.

There will be performances from the official harpist to HRH The Prince of Wales, Alis Huws, also a rising star in the world of musical theatre, singer Samuel Wyn-Morris, who’s most recently been performing in the West End production of ‘Les Misérables’.

Carmarthenshire based actor, Julian Lewis Jones, who has appeared in Hollywood film Invictus and is a regular face in the Sky TV series, Stella, will be the guest reader.

The concert will also feature performances from two young local singers, Osian Clarke and Lauren Fisher, both members of the Loud Applause Rising Stars programme.

Last year the council donated over 100 iPads to its care homes so that residents could keep in contact with their loved ones throughout lockdown.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s executive board member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism said: “We are delighted to be able to offer all our care home residents a free viewing of our St David’s Day online concert. This concert promises to be a very exciting one with a wealth of local talent taking part. The Christmas online event was very popular and we hope that as many people as possible will join us from home for this one and show their support for our local artists.”

Tickets for the concert are on also on sale to the public via Carmarthenshire Theatre’s website www.theatrausirgar.co.uk Those purchasing a ticket will receive a direct link to watch the show which will be streamed on the theatre’s website. The concert will be available to view via the link for three weeks following the release. Tickets are priced at £5 per household.

To see the Carmarthenshire Theatre programmes of digital shows visit their website.

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Business

S4C develops new apprenticeship scheme to protect the future of the business

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The Welsh broadcaster, S4C has invested in apprenticeships as part of its commitment to training and developing skills locally.

Since relocating its headquarters to Canolfan S4C Yr Egin in Carmarthen, the company has hired three more apprentices.

S4C Chief Executive Owen Evans said apprentices will allow the company to plug the skills gap within the creative and media industry, not only locally, but in Wales as a whole.

He said: “We wanted to find a way to bring new talent, new ideas and relevant skills into the business. Recruiting apprentices was the obvious choice, because we wanted to target the knowledgeable individuals in the area that want to start their career in the industry and would normally have to move to Cardiff or even further afield.

“An apprenticeship training route meant that we could also develop a training programme to make sure that staff had the exact skills we needed.”

The Carmarthen site – Canolfan S4C Yr Egin houses the channel’s corporate, communications, finance, human resources, business affairs and legal departments.

He said: “We decided to recruit apprentices into three specific roles; finance, social media and business affairs as we felt that these specialisms would benefit the most from fresh ideas and new skills.

“Our target audience is expanding and we’re creating content for a much younger audience so it’s important that our workforce reflects that.

“Even in the very short time that we’ve had our apprentices on board, they’ve made a huge impact on the business, helping to create capacity in the team and bringing creative solutions to the table.

S4C currently employs 110 staff split between Carmarthen, Cardiff and Caernarfon in Gwynedd.

Owen continued: “We’re also lucky here that we’re able to run our apprenticeships through the medium of Welsh. By developing individuals through the medium of Welsh, we’re investing in the future of the content we are producing on the channel, S4C as a business and the industry as a whole.”

Joseph Hughes, 18 from Neath is a Level 2 Finance apprentice.

He said: “When I left school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had an interest in the financial industry, as my dad is a Financial Controller and I’ve always been inspired by what he does. When I saw the apprenticeship at S4C, I jumped at the chance.”

Joseph attends Coleg Sir Gar in Carmarthen one day a week where he learns the theory behind his role.

He continued: “Since starting my apprenticeship at S4C, I’ve gained so much experience. I support the team on invoicing, credit checks, processing payments and processing business expenses. I’m enjoying every second, and now I know that this is the career route for me.”

Minister for the Economy and Transport, Ken Skates, said: “Apprenticeships can provide the perfect avenue into work, allow companies to find, nurture and develop staff and ensure our economy is supported by a workforce equipped to tackle the challenges of today and which are ready for the opportunities of tomorrow.

“Apprenticeship Week Wales 2020 celebrates the important role apprenticeships play in the Welsh economy and should encourage business owners to consider the benefits that apprentices bring.

“With the uncertainty caused by Brexit it’s more important than ever for employers to plan for the future; future-proof their workforces and nurture the talent that exists within Wales.

“We are on track to meet its ambitious commitment to create 100,000 all-age, high-quality apprenticeships by the end of this Assembly.”

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

For more information about hiring an apprentice visit https://businesswales.gov.wales/skillsgateway/skills-and-training-programmes/apprenticeships, Visit Prentisiaethau cymru / Apprenticeships Cymru on Facebook or @apprenticewales on Twitter, and follow the story using the hashtag #AWWales.

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