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Welsh music and art digital platform launched

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Feature film premieres. Music videos debuts. New work from emerging visual artists. Latest from blogs and publications. Live gig and event footage and much more.

This is the kind of content audiences can discover for free on AM, a new visual digital community being billed as the world’s first open, democratic, cultural platform with the ambition to reflect a whole country’s artistic ecosystem. A platform that emphasises discovering, engaging and sharing whilst giving a platform to new, maybe previously unheard, voices: a new world for a new generation of creators and consumers.

Actor Rhys Ifans said: “It’s great to see a platform like AM providing an alternative space for Welsh creators to gather, share and collaborate.”

From Monday 9 March, creatives are setting up channels on the platform, available on desktop or as an app, across five areas – Listen, Watch, Words, Festivals and Gigs.  Each channel is a snapshot from the artists that are making Wales such a creative country right now. 75 initial channels from the music,film, photography, performance, art, poetry and theatre worlds are sharing exciting new and exclusive older work ready for launch. There will be tens of new channels and numerous technological updates to follow over the next few months.

The first major showing on the site is a critically lauded Manic Street Preachers film, with the iconic Welsh band and director Kieran Evans choosing the new platform over streaming services like Netflix and Amazon.  Following last year’s tour of UK cinemas, Be Pure, Be Vigilant, Behave will stream on AM from Friday 13 March.

James Dean Bradfield, frontman of Manic Street Preachers said: “We are very happy that our film Be Pure, Be Vigilant, Behave – shot and directed by Kieran Evans with the visceral live mix of Dave Eringa – will be shown for the first time ever online on AM: a groundbreaking new platform celebrating Welsh culture. Enjoy the film, enjoy AM.”

Developed by PYST in partnership with Tramshed Tech, with the support of Welsh Government and sponsored by Bangor University and University of Wales Trinity Saint David, the vision is for all major new work from across Wales’ artistic disciplines to be shared – nationally and internationally –  using Wales’ first open dedicated platform.

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “We have always been a nation of storytellers. Our creative minds have been honed by the sharing of tales across generations – in words, images and song. Today, the technology may have changed but the purpose is the same: to harness our creative skills to engage with people, share ideas, entertain and inform –  AM will become a showcase for Wales’ creative talent and were delighted to support its development.”

Alun Llwyd, chief executive of PYST, said: “The ambition is for AM to become somewhere you check in daily to get an insight into a whole country’s creative output. New films, new music, new art, new poetry, new ideas, new inspiration- a new space to reflect Wales’ confidence in the creative arts and one people around the world can get lost in. It’s a brand new space and one that will develop the more people contribute.

“The internet has become quite a dark place, one that can have a really damaging effect on mental health and artistic confidence. We wanted to build an inclusive, democratic community open to everyone, particularly the young, a supportive space which is welcoming to artists creating in a range of mediums, at every stage of their career and whatever their background.

“If you’re a 16 year old in any part of Wales, you’re probably streaming Welsh bands like Tri Hŵr Doeth or My Name is Ian on Spotify and watching hours of YouTube and Netflix each day. What you may not be doing is engaging with the mainstream broadcasters. AM offers an opportunity where all this content can co-exist, building a new audience and that’s an enticing proposition.”

Commenting upon the launch of AM, the CEO of Tramshed Tech, Louise Harris said: “Here at Tramshed we are always looking to work with the best local Welsh talent and help find ways for their innovative products and services to get out there into the national and international content marketplace. This is why we are so excited to be supporting this great new content distribution platform AM – taking the best of Wales out into the world”.

One channel launching today belongs to Iris Prize Festival, an annual LGBT film festival held in Cardiff which awards the largest short film prize in the world – the prestigious £30,000 Iris Prize.  Berwyn Rowlands, the festival’s director, expects to use the platform to share exclusive content like trailers, interviews and behind-the-scenes clips. He said:

“We are always looking at how we can increase audiences for LGBT stories. When we discovered AM we were so excited and felt it was important to have a presence on the site. We expect to introduce new audiences for Iris short films through AM.”

Efa Lois, an illustrator originally from Mid Wales inspired by ‘positivity, witches, 70s dresses and a little mythology’, believes the platform can inspire artists like her to new heights, said: “AM is an innovative and new vehicle for sharing and discovering creative and exciting work from Wales, and I’m very happy to be part of the community.”

It’s not just new creative work which can find a home on AM.  The chief executive of the Books Council of Wales is excited about the possibilities AM can bring to the past and future literature treasure of Wales. She believes the platform can breathe new life into long forgotten books and open up a new audience for future books.

Helgard Krause said: “This new digital arts platform is an exciting development, and we look forward to working together in the future as we celebrate and promote the range of different arts that Wales has to offer.”

Five channels to discover

  1. Larynx Entertainment- a media platform dedicated to the promotion of Welsh urban music. Key piece: MC Agent Orange getting some things off his chest in a two minute rap showcase.
  2. Taking Flight- youth theatre group for deaf and hard of hearing individuals with extensive tour experience across Europe. Key piece: A trailer for Peeling.
  3. Or Pedwar Gwynt- a weekly online and three times a year print magazine questioning and challenging ideas about contemporary Wales and its place in the world.  Key piece: Review of Seren Morgan Jones exhibition ‘Cerys Mewn Versace’ at Oriel Ffin y Parc, Llanrwst by Esyllt Lewis.
  4. NAWR- a multidisciplinary concert series in Swansea and Hay-on-Wye of experimental music, free improvisation, film, lo-fi, free jazz, sound art, alternative folk and new music. Key piece: live performance from flautist Emma Coluthard playing Planxty by Fergus Johnson.
  5. Focus Wales- a not-for-profit organisation providing an annual new music showcase for the Welsh industry at an international multi-venue festival in Wrexham each spring, showcasing 250+ bands from across the world on 20+ stages, alongside interactive industry sessions. Key piece:Highlights from a live showcase in SXSW in Texas 2019

    Credit: AM / Apple

AM is free and available to download now from Apple’s App store and Google Play www.amam.cymru/ambobdim. It is also a website – www.amam.cymru

Rhys Gregory
Editor of Wales247.co.uk

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