Oriel Davies are working hard behind the scenes to get open as soon as they can. The UK government announced that museums will be able to safely open their doors again in the coming weeks so the art gallery in the park in Newtown are working hard to put measures in place, following government guidance, so that they can provide the safest possible experience for their staff and visitors. They are aiming to slowly re-open over the coming weeks. Café Relish and the Siop//Shop will be first parts to open. An opening date will be confirmed very soon. There’ll be an exhibition of prints and drawings by Melvyn Evans in Oriel y Caffi, which celebrate the land. Oriel 1 will open in August with Our Isles: An Exhibition Celebrating the Art of Rural Life, and later in the Autumn Oriel 2 will host the DAC Art Prize.

Visitor Experience Manager, Deborah Dalton says,

“We miss our visitors and can’t wait to welcome you all back.”

The gallery recently conducted an audience survey which had 100 responses to help them prepare for reopening.

Kate Morgan-Clare, Creative Producer said,

“Younger audiences are a key growth area for us. We want young families and young people to get involved. It’s your gallery! We’ll be restarting Criw Celf as soon as we’re able. We’re delighted that people still want workshops, so we’ll be developing more adult workshops initially, followed by children and family activities and these will be available in a variety of formats: face to face, online with support and materials, and pre-recorded material available through our website.”

The gallery is currently working remotely with designer Hefin Jones who’s been working with young people aged 18-24 during lockdown. One of the aims of this project will be to develop a voice for young people at the gallery, to influence thinking over coming years. This project was made possible through funding from the Arts Council of Wales’s National Lottery Fund. The residency is one of 3 in the UK to explore place-based commons and commoning for Craftspace’s nationally touring exhibition We are Commoners which will open in Newtown next May.

Oriel Davies works with local partners and through collaboration with national arts organisations to increase both local audiences and develop the renowned visitor destination. “We are so grateful for the financial support we receive from our main supporters, The Arts Council of Wales and Powys County Council. The National Lottery is playing a critical role in supporting people, projects and communities during these challenging times.”

During lockdown the gallery has been sharing online exhibitions from around the world on their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. They opened an online Oriel Davies People’s Gallery on Facebook. The gallery will produce more home grown online content in the future. Oriel Davies were recently awarded a stabilisation fund for organisations from the Arts Council of Wales. Thanks to National Lottery players, up to £600 million has been made available to support communities throughout the UK during the Coronavirus crisis. They will use this money to upgrade digital capacity to allow increased accessibility and offer new features. A new more accessible website will be launched and will include an online shop to increase generated income.

 Carol Naden, Visitor Experience Assistant said,

“We’re using the grant to ensure that staff and visitors are safe as we reopen, and we’ll be carrying out essential maintenance to ensure we can operate a smooth return to the gallery for our visitors.

We’re a charity and we rely on earned income, grants and donations. We’re going to be developing exclusive products, and selling more hand made things, primarily from Wales, so we hope you’ll enjoy shopping online with us in the near future.”

Oriel Davies is introducing 2 meter distancing, hand sanitiser at entrance and exit points, limited numbers in the building and a one-way system. Card payments will be encouraged though they would still love you to donate any change you have to help them do projects in the community. Protective screens have been introduced to protect visitors and gallery staff. Appointments for visits can be arranged if you’d prefer to book in advance, just call the gallery to arrange.

Carol Ainsworth, Administrator said,

“We’ve invested in Zoom during lockdown and we think we can make some of our activity even more accessible using this technology. When we are able to offer room hire Zoom will also be available, meaning that meeting attendees will be able to join from anywhere in the world.”

Steffan Jones-Hughes, Director said,

“Some of our exhibitions will be on for longer to allow more people to see them, and we’re looking at working outside of the gallery spaces, online and in the community and green spaces. We’ve got some really exciting projects coming up in the next 12 months. Lorna at Cafe Relish will soon be offering takeaway and you’ll be welcome to sit outside. It’s your local gallery, please support us however you can, financially by donating either online or in the space, or maybe donate your time. We’ll be looking for volunteers over the next few months to join us and get really involved in the local community.”

The gallery also has new board members joining them during this exciting period. Do you know anyone with financial, accounting or Human Resources skills who’d like to be more involved? The gallery would love to hear from you.