Arts Highlights of 2013 – Guest Post

It’s a brand new year with brand new arts events to look forward to but what have been the highlights of 2013? Avid arts goer and consumer Amber Bell is the author of Cheap Arts Cardiff’s guest post looking back at her highlights of inexpensive arts events over the past year. Amber graduated last summer from Cardiff University and recently started working in arts fundraising and development. Her blog The Scribble Emporium seeks out arts events and contains reviews – take a look for ideas and inspiration! Over to Amber …

As a graduate of 2013 and an avid lover of all things arty, it’s paramount that I feed my passion on a tight budget.  Until recently I’ve been living on an intern’s wage and adjusting to the world of council tax and real life living, so £30 a pop on productions has simply been out of the question.

Luckily, I live in the beautiful city of Cardiff; a city that caters to people of all ages and incomes when it comes to arts and culture.  Not only is the arts scene in Wales fresh and cutting edge, but it is CHEAP.

It’s all about doing your research.  If  you know where to look, cheap arts really are all around you.  All of my top events last year were seen under £10; in fact, many for free.  The city is calling out for young people to throw themselves back into the arts… so take advantage of it!

Many companies in South Wales offer preferential rates for under 25s.  Last year I saw the sublime Anna Bolena by Welsh National Opera for £5.  And no, I wasn’t sitting up in the heavens.  Prime seats for the price of a Maccy Ds.  It’s a no brainer.  Even if you haven’t been introduced to the world of Opera, for £5 it’s a captivating way to spend an evening if nothing else.

Title role Anna Bolena. Tickets were available for £5 (photo courtesy of Robert Workman)

Title role Anna Bolena by WNO.             Tickets were available for £5                                                          photo courtesy of Robert Workman

Parallel Lines - a favourite art event of 2013 at Chapter

Parallel Lines – 2013 highlight

Chapter Arts Centre are also an excellent place to save the pennies but still have a fantastic time.  Films at Chapter are always around £5 whilst shows are rarely over the £10 mark.  The slightly cheaper cinema price means you can take a bit of a risk with some of the more independent films; for me, a risk that has always paid off.  My favourite film of 2013 was The Selfish Giant by Clio Barnard, a film which I had the pleasure to see at Chapter.  My favourite event of last year was also held here; Parallel Lines by Dirty Protest was a measly tenner yet one of the most intoxicating productions I have seen in a long time.  A fascinating blend of uncomfortable society truths and overwhelming acting talent made this an unmissable show.  Sure, not all shows at Chapter will be quite as exciting, but it’s all about keeping your eyes and ears open and grabbing with both hands when the time comes.

British Council of Wales have held some brilliant events this year; and all free. The first Take over Cardiff was held in October, taking the people of Cardiff on a journey around the cultural hubs of the great city.  Places like the Senedd, the Wales Millennium Centre and National Museum of Wales were handed over to the young people of the city.  Poetry slams, Ethiopian street dance, Ballet Nimba and rap artists were just some of the examples of the scenes popping up across the city.  It was an inspiring experience, and one I felt very passionately about.  Later in the year British Council of Wales altakeover_logoso held the Wales International Young Artist Awards, held at Radisson Blu.  An evening playing homage to some of the brightest young artists in the country, this was again an inspiring and delightful event.  These are ones to keep a close eye on; there’s always something going on with British Council of Wales, and even better it tends to be free.

As an arts reviewer, I am lucky to be able to see many productions for free.  It’s something that many arts fans aren’t aware of; but something to get involved with.  Get yourself involved with a Welsh arts and culture magazine (such as Buzz) or website and opportunities for free / cheaper shows will widen.  The Young Critics Scheme is also an excellent way to nurture your reviewing skills whilst receiving tickets to fresh and dynamic productions.  Or you can do it by yourself; get a blog such as this out there and well known and you can start promoting yourself as a reviewer to Welsh arts companies.

Cheap arts are out there; it’s your job to go out and find them!

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