Since the announcement of its chosen name, interest has increased significantly in the new Tŷ Pawb development, which will bring together arts, markets and community work within the former Peoples Market building on Market Street.
The end of the project and the opening of the new facility – with a big event held to mark the opening on Dydd Llun Pawb – are getting closer all the time, with construction work within the former Peoples Market building expected to end by March 2018.
With the project’s momentum growing, so too is the focus on what Tŷ Pawb will deliver for Wrexham. There is particular interest around the arts side of the project and what can be expected from the exhibitions and other events to be held at the development in future.
Wrexham already has a bustling arts scene, with THIS Project at its Undegun site on Regent Street attracting a lot of attention and popularity.
Given the importance of the arts in Wrexham and how that’s going to play a huge part in Tŷ Pawb, we took the time to speak to Jo Marsh, Arts Lead for Wrexham Council and Creative Director at Oriel Wrecsam.
Jo will take on the role of Creative Director at Tŷ Pawb when it opens in the spring of 2018. We had a quick Q&A to catch up with her and find out more about what her role will entail, and what plans she has for the future of the development.
What is your role in relation to Tŷ Pawb?
I’m the Arts Lead for WCBC and Creative Director of Oriel Wrecsam, and will be Creative Director of Tŷ Pawb (Arts, Markets and Community space) when it opens next year in the former People’s Market Building.
How long have you been in this post?
I came into this post in January 2017, before which I was the Learning and Engagement Officer for Oriel Wrecsam.
What is your artistic background, and what did you do before you started working at Oriel Wrecsam?
My background is as a self-employed artist and arts educator; my work includes sculpture, film, and projects involving other artists and members of the public.
Some of my previous work includes a project called With Love From The Artist (www.withlovefromtheartist.com) which won the Woolgather Art Prize in 2011; and a travelling gallery called WanderBox which I built and toured with support from Arts Council of Wales (www.wanderbox.org).
I’ve worked as a freelance arts educator for Oriel Wrecsam, Oriel Davies, Appart 113 gallery Bordeaux, the Design Museum – London, Arts Connection Powys, and a variety of schools.
How long have you lived in Wrexham?
I grew up in Yorkshire and then did my degree in Chester. I moved to Wrexham in 2011 from Toulouse, France, where I had been making work and teaching. I had planned to be here for just a year, but I quickly became part of a vibrant and welcoming arts and music community. Now more than six years later, Wrexham is 100% my home.
What is your current involvement in the artistic life of Wrexham?
I have been a studio holder at Undegun since it first opened in 2013, and I was a member of the original Artistic Policy committee. I still have a studio at Undegun, and my current artistic practice very much feeds into my approach to the Creative Direction for Tŷ Pawb – exploring the idea of overlap between gallery spaces and retail spaces.
What is your approach as Creative Director of Tŷ Pawb?
As Arts Lead for Wrexham and Creative Director of Oriel Wrecsam / Tŷ Pawb, my approach is fundamentally the same as when I was Learning and Engagement Officer; to design and deliver an artistic programme that is genuinely beneficial to Wrexham communities, which brings in influences and expertise from across Wales and beyond, as well as working closely with local partners and artists.
What does your working life look like at the moment?
The team at Oriel Wrecsam and I are currently working hard in relation to the Capital redevelopment of the People’s Market, as well as putting together an arts programme for the first two years once we’re open.
This includes significant partnership projects and we’re very excited about the programme, which will be released in the next month.
A key focus for the arts programme during the first two years will be on the co-existence of arts and markets under one roof. We’re looking at creative ways for the arts programme to support the market, and vice versa.
Why do you need to plan the programme so far in advance?
We will need to plan the arts programme for Tŷ Pawb at least two years in advance. This is partly because of the way we’re funded, and also because of the large scale of the programme. The more ambitious exhibitions that we are planning can take a minimum of two years to plan, whether they are produced in-house or bought in from other organisations.
Having said that we’re keen to have scope in the exhibition programme to be responsive to local priorities, and with that in mind we’ve factored in a number of spaces in between programmed exhibitions. These will be periods of up to four weeks when the gallery spaces will be used by local groups. We’ll be able to give more information about how these will work and how to get involved in the next few months.
Is there a way that the arts community can find out more about Tŷ Pawb and the arts programme?
Yes – my colleague James Harper (curator at Oriel Wrecsam / Tŷ Pawb) and I have been holding an Arts Stakeholders Group at Undegun, 11 Regent Street. The next of these will be on November 8 at 6pm and all are welcome to attend.
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