Search site

Global audience for Swansea's cultural innovation

The innovative way in which Swansea had adapted its cultural life for lockdown is being discussed around the world.


Challenges forced on the city's organisations produced inventive solutions to keep its diverse communities engaged with culture.

Swansea Council has been at the forefront of those efforts, with achievements such as new access to heritage, fresh support for online culture and exploring new ways to work in culture.

With cultural venues temporarily closed, council staff have arranged educational and entertaining new content such as podcasts (pictured above), an online gallery programme and online heritage talks.

The city's successes - with others from 50 countries - were discussed in an online event that shared learning experiences. It was arranged by United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), a global network of cities and governments.

The new collective knowledge is now being developed for presentation at a UCLG international seminar this September. The theme is cultural rights.

Robert Francis-Davies, the council's cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: "I'm delighted with the way in which the council's Cultural Services team has responded to the challenges presented by lockdown.

"Their output has been accessible, educational and thoroughly engaging.

"In a difficult time for the whole city and all its communities our cultural staff have shown that they're always here for Swansea."

An activity pack included in food parcel deliveries

Key successes for the council's Cultural Services team over the past few months have included:

  • Reaching out to some of the most vulnerable people. This has included bespoke online gallery tours for those with anxieties, web-based art classes and befriending phone calls for older people, activity packs with online resources for distribution with foodbank parcels, and online heritage talks for older audiences.
  • Maintaining social networks and introducing new community and civic partners to each other. This has included podcasts to introduce local area coordinators to their communities and to introduce business, voluntary and creative freelancers to each other, the promotion of new talent with the Swansea Music Hub and attracting blood donors through the use of the city's art collection.
  • Helping families to home school. This has included providing hundreds of online suggestions for arts activities, workshops, performances and quizzes, and providing route maps with a Dylan Thomas theme to make local exercise more interesting.
  • Keeping an international profile for Swansea. This has included using online gallery talks on the theme of the Wales-India relationship to attract hundreds of participants from around the world. They were introduced with live welcoming views of the city.

The council's involvement with the UCLG seminar in September reflects its work with the UCLG and United Nations sustainable development action plan Agenda 21.

Key to this involvement is the council's participation in Europe-wide scheme Culture in Sustainable Cities, a pilot programme that promotes the right to participate fully and freely in cultural life in order for any city or community to be sustainable.

In response to the pandemic, the locations involved in the programme - including Swansea - have regrouped to consider how culture can support cities during recovery from the virus and reinstate its culture in a safe and inclusive way for long term benefits for all.

This is illustrated in the Rome Charter, which the pilot cities are supporting.



Powered by GOSS iCM