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Star-studded celebration of creative partnerships

WALES’ best creative partnerships have been recognised in star-studded online ceremony.

The Arts & Business (A&B) Cymru Awards 2020 took place virtually (on Friday 9 October) with an online audience of hundreds of guests from across the globe.

Registrations for the free of charge ceremony were made by A&B Cymru’s contacts from Wales, the UK and as far afield as Los Angeles and Australia.

For over a decade, the flagship ceremony has taken place on the stage of Wales Millennium Centre but the restrictions of COVID-19 meant that it was no longer possible to host the annual celebration at a black-tie dinner in Cardiff. A

&B Cymru’s Chief Executive Rachel Jones said “We were really sad that our Awards couldn’t be held at WMC this year – it’s the highlight of our calendar for our team and many of our partners.

“However, we couldn’t let 2020 pass without recognising all the incredible business and arts partnerships which exist in such abundance across Wales.

“The decision to take the ceremony online was made possible by the incredible and staunch support of our sponsors and the long established partnership we have developed with Orchard Media & Events. We simply couldn’t have done it without them.”

For over a quarter of a century, the Awards have encouraged, acknowledged and celebrated exemplary and innovative partnerships between the private sector and the arts that benefit communities across the country.

Global Energy Company Valero, principal sponsor of the high profile ceremony for the 11th consecutive year, headed up a list of crucial private and public sector supporters, both cash and in-kind.

As part of the ceremony, a range of celebrities gave messages of support during the evening and announced the winners of the Awards.

They included actors Rakie Ayola, Rhys Ifans, Mark Lewis Jones, Suzanne Packer and Michael Sheen, soprano Rebecca Evans, singer / songwriter Amy Wadge, TV presenter Anna Ryder Richardson, news anchor Huw Edwards and former Olympian Colin Jackson.

The crucial role that individuals play in supporting the arts across Wales was celebrated in two categories.

The Robert Maskrey Award for Arts Philanthropy, supported by the Welsh Government, recognises personal generosity to the arts and was presented to Daniel Weston a member of staff at Google in California who had come across the work of The Aloud Charity online. He was so inspired by the aims and aspirations of Only Boys Aloud that he became an immediate financial donor and increased his gift to help the charity through the challenges of COVID-19.

The Adviser of the Year Award for the individual who has made the most impact on an arts organisation working through A&B Cymru’s Professional Development Programmes, was won by Admiral’s Emma Heyes for her invaluable work as a Trustee of Neath-based Theatr na nÓg.

Penderyn Distillery was named Admiral Business of the Year and also won the Arts, Business & Brand Identity category, sponsored by Hern & Crabtree. In 2019, Penderyn extended its established partnership with the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama by sponsoring the college’s St David’s Day Gala showcase in New York. The aims of both partners – excellence and a desire to reach new international markets, were clearly matched in what the judges called a “bold, superb project!”

The Arts, Business & the Community category, sponsored by Wales & West Utilities, was won by North Wales social landlord Cartrefi Conwy for its sponsorship of the National Eisteddfod in Llanrwst which benefited many members of the local community.

The award for Arts, Business & Young People, sponsored by Cartrefi Conwy, went to The Hodge Foundation for its wide-ranging support of The Aloud Charity, which is crucial to the organisation’s work and survival.

The Arts & Small Business category, sponsored by Western Power Distribution, was won by Cardiff based Estate Agent’s Hern & Crabtree, for its first ever arts sponsorship of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama’s outreach work with young people across South East Wales.

The Arts, Business & Health Award went to Cardiff & Vale Health Charity for its long standing partnership with Rubicon Dance that enhances the lives, physical health and well-being of elderly patients.

Arts, Business & the Environment, sponsored by The Waterloo Foundation & University of Wales Trinity Saint David, was awarded to Natural Resources Wales for a partnership with Theatr Clwyd that enabled a site specific drama performed in a woodland setting, using found objects to explore environmental issues.

The Arts, Business & Employees Award went to Legal & General Investment Management for its partnership with Hijinx which employed neurodivergent actors to deliver role play sessions to the business’ staff on communication skills with vulnerable individuals.

The prestigious Hodge Foundation Arts Award is a cash prize of £2,500. It goes to the arts organisation which has worked most successfully in partnership with business to maintain and develop its activities. The 2020 Award went to the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama for its wide-ranging and mutually beneficial partnerships with Bad Wolf, Hern & Crabtree, Penderyn Distillery and Valero.

In addition to the cash sponsors of the awards, A&B Cymru works with a range of event partners on its flagship ceremony, all of whom added to the success of the evening. They are: Entertainment Sponsor University of South Wales and Media Partner Orchard Media & Events, as well as Celtic Spirit Company, DesignDough, Llanllyr Source and Mari Thomas Jewellery.

The award winners were chosen by an independent panel of judges who have expertise in practical art forms, sponsorship and the aims of the private sector: Kathy Brown, recently retired Regional Citizenship Manager at Barclays plc; Jean Church, MBE, Founder of My Business Lynq Ltd and a Senior Independent Council Member of the Institute of Directors; Ruth Fabby, MBE, DL, Director of Disability Arts Cymru; Ceidiog Hughes, who founded the leading PR company Ceidiog Communications; Director of South Wales based CelticHR, Hayley Hughes; actor, broadcaster and Senior Drama Lecturer Suzanne Packer; Tim Rhys Evans, MBE, conductor, composer, arranger and TV Presenter and Stephen Thornton, Public Affairs Manager at Valero Pembroke Refinery.

The Award trophies, which were specially commissioned for the ceremony, were designed and made by ceramicist Lowri Davies.

The evening’s spectacular entertainment was provided by members of Only Men Aloud and Singer Songwriter Amy Wadge.

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