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Wales’ best creative partnerships recognised in a dazzling ceremony

Credit: Arts & Business Cymru

The Arts & Business (A&B) Cymru Awards 2024 took place at ICC Wales, Newport, on 4 July. The event, which for nearly three decades has celebrated excellence in partnership working, was sponsored for the 13th consecutive year by global energy company, Valero. The black-tie ceremony, presented by Gabriella Foley and Tim Rhys Evans, revealed the winners of ten prestigious awards.

Cardiff & Vale Health Charity was named Sony Business of the Year, in recognition of its genuine belief in the power of the arts to enrich lives and its imaginative approach to partnership. The Health Charity also won the Arts, Business & Health category for its work with Forget-me-not Chorus, Motion Control Dance and Rubicon Dance, which make a tangible difference to the well-being of patients, staff and members of the community.

The recipient of the Arts, Business & the Community award, sponsored by Wales & West Utilities, was Cardiff Harbour Authority. The business was recognised for its creative approach to messaging and community engagement through its partnerships with Lighthouse Theatre and Theatr na nÓg.

The award for Arts, Business & Diversity, sponsored by Cardiff & Vale Health Charity, was won by Coastal Housing. Its innovative partnership with MLArt celebrated the rich, multicultural communities of Swansea.

Port of Milford Haven won the Arts, Business & Employees award, sponsored by Wind2. It worked with Narberth based SPAN Arts to communicate crucial safety information to staff in an innovative and effective way.

North Wales based Wind2 was the winner of Arts, Business & the Environment, sponsored by The Waterloo Foundation & University of Wales Trinity Saint David. The business partnered Arts Connection – Cyswllt Celf to educate primary school children about the benefits of renewable energy in an engaging and creative way.

The Robert Maskrey Award for Arts Philanthropy recognises personal generosity to the arts. It was presented to Alan and Sonja Jonesfor their wide-ranging and crucial support of NEW Sinfonia.

Gemma Barnett, Business Development Manager at Blake Morgan was named Adviser of the Year, in recognition of her exceptional support of Rubicon Dance. The category, sponsored by Grant Stephens Family Law, goes to the individual who has made the most impact on an arts organisation working through A&B Cymru’s Professional Development Programmes.

The highly prestigious Hodge Foundation Arts Award was won by Swansea-based theatre company Grand Ambition, for its instinctive ability to forge meaningful, far-reaching and mutually beneficial partnerships with business.

A surprise addition to the ceremony was a new award, named in honour of the late broadcaster Nicola Heywood Thomas, who was a core member of the A&B Cymru team for over a quarter of a century. The charity’s CEO, Rachel Jones, said Through all her work, Nicola strived to make the arts truly accessible to all, using her extensive knowledge and expertise to inspire and inform. It is only fitting, therefore, that we introduce this special prize which recognises an arts organisation which changes lives through its work.  The cash award, made possible by the Hodge Foundation, went to Forget-me-not Chorus, an organisation which exists to bring joy and laughter to those living with, or alongside, dementia.

The winners were chosen by independent panels of judges who have expertise in practical art forms, sponsorship and the aims of the private sector: The individuals who took on the considerable task of judging the business partnership categories were Donna Ali, Director of BE.Xcellence; Eversheds Sutherland’s Managing Partner, Tom Bray; Freelance Arts Producer Jason Camilleri; Karen Hodge, Trustee of the Hodge Foundation and Stephen Thornton, Public Affairs Manager at Valero.

The Adviser of the Year was judged by three key supporters of A&B Cymru’s Professional Development Programmes. They were Jonathan Chitty, Finance Director at the Port of Milford Haven, Managing Director of Grant Stephens Family Law, Grant Stephens and Clare Williams, Freelance Arts Consultant and Visual Artist.

The Award trophies, which were specially commissioned for the ceremony, were designed and made by Bethesda-based artist Rhiannon Gwyn. They were presented to the winners by well-known personalities including actors Di Botcher, Julian Lewis Jones, Nia Roberts and Suzanne Packer, actor and playwright Azuka Oforka, presenter and designer Anna Ryder Richardson, Grammy Award-winning Soprano Rebecca Evans and Olympic athlete and broadcaster Colin Jackson. The evening’s spectacular entertainment was provided by Feeding the Fish and the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama.