Inspirational people of all walks of life are being honoured in the second annual Inspire Wales Awards, a partnership between the Western Mail and the Institute of Welsh Affairs. The awards recognise the contribution of those in the fields of business, education, science and technology, arts and media, the environment and sport. They also aim to mark the work of young achievers, those that promote Wales to the world and the Welsh language in the workplace, as well as champions of citizenship. Here we reveal the finalists for the Arts, Media & Creative Industries category.
In 2003, as a self-employed weave designer, Laura Thomas started down a career that is remarkable in the sheer variety and breadth of its reach. As well as her running her own practice, she has lectured at Coleg Sir Gar on its Textiles course since 2004 and for the last year combined that with being a trustee of the Makers Guild in Wales – making her one of the foremost leaders of applied arts in Wales. She has also brought new dimensions to established practices – pioneering Fibre Art Wales’ first outdoor exhibition at the National Botanic Gardens and sold-out exhibitions in woven textiles in Carmarthen. Ms Thomas, from Pontyclun, has successfully combined her own commercial interests with an ambassadorial role for the arts, raising Wales’ profile internationally as a home for design. Her strong educational ethic is demonstrated by her work with Coleg Sir Gar and as a visiting tutor for other universities, as well as a workshop leader for the Weavers Guilds and other community groups.
Richard Lewis Davies
As a founding member of independent publisher Parthian and publishing director for its Library of Wales series, Mr Lewis Davies has had a profound impact in bringing classic Welsh writing to an English audience. In his role, he has brought work by Welsh authors to a UK and international audience – translating work into nine languages across the world as part of Parthian’s 200-print book catalogue and transforming the company into a leader in English-language Welsh literature. The Cardigan-based writer has also made a huge success of the Library of Wales series, bringing Welsh classics to a modern English-language audience. He has admirably combined this with an award-winning parallel career as a creative writer – publishing novels such as Work, Sex and Rugby, which went on to win a World Book Day Award for Wales – and writing for Welsh theatre and as a literary essayist.
In a career spanning nearly 30 years, Rhondda-born Phil George has left a significant and lasting imprint on Welsh broadcasting. As a former producer and head of arts, music and features at BBC Wales and founder of his own TV production company Green Bay Media, Cardiff-based Mr George has helped create scores of Bafta-award winning shows. But he has combined this with his work as the founding chair of National Theatre Wales, which in its first year has garnered unprecedented national and international attention. The theatre has developed under his guidance and artistic direction – which set it on the path of being a 21st century theatre for Wales. He has pushed for theatre and the arts to be more accessible to a wider audience – and has steered a remarkable and unique artistic direction for the theatre, culminating in the spectacular Passion play with Michael Sheen, which took place over 72 hours and across the whole town of Port Talbot.