Fio - The Launch / Breakin' The Bay
I’ve spent much of the last year training as a workshop facilitator with Cardiff- and London-based Youth Of Creative Arts (YOCA), which works largely to promote participation in the performing arts amongst youth and ethnic minority groups. This last weekend saw its formal relaunch as Fio, as it aims to broaden its reach. The relaunch took the form of an Open Day at the Butetown History and Arts Centre in Cardiff Bay, the centrepiece of which was a set of performances led by the company’s freelancers.
My contribution was two-fold: firstly, in collaboration with fellow facilitator Teklom Fisher, I’ve been working with a group from the Four Winds drop-in centre in the Grangetown area of the city for people with mental health problems, aiming to help them create an artistic response to the experiences of people from another drop-in centre – Oasis, in Splott, which caters for asylum-seekers. The resultant piece, “One Eye Open” was performed on the day, and was well-received.
In addition, during a week-long series of workshops at Fitzalan High School, aimed at provoking discussion of the concept of Britishness in an era of Islamist terrorism, I wrote a very short play which was performed at the launch, under the inventive direction of Mathilde Lopez. For a hurriedly cobbled-together first draft, it went down pretty well, even getting laughs in the right places.
A number of fellow trainees also contributed sterling work, and the mood on the day was a highly positive and optimistic one, amongst both participants and attendees.
Taking place simultaneously, a short distance away, was Breakin’ The Bay, a celebration of hip-hop MC-ing and DJ-ing, breakdancing, graffiti etc., based around the Wales Millennium Centre. I paid a brief visit on day 2 of this event, and was impressed both by some of the dancing on display, but also the continued commitment of long-standing devotees to the B-boy culture. Not my kind of thing, musically, but some emotional moments.