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Performing arts group stages pandemic comeback with music grant support

A PERFORMING arts group staged a remarkable comeback with the support of a community funding organisation.

Conwy Valley and North West Wales Coast Community Rail Partnership and Transport for Wales (TfW) stepped in to help Maes-G ShowZone in Maesgeirchen, Bangor, when they needed a grant to help pay for new equipment during the pandemic.

Led by Steffie and Eirian Williams Roberts and Naomi Crane, the group was launched in September 2020 and immediately attracted more than 25 children from the local area.

Fast forward two years and they now have up to 50 young people attending their twice-weekly sessions at Eglwys y Groes church hall, testament to the hard work and determination of Eirian and the team.

“Maes-G Showzone originally started around 15 years ago on the housing estate, but sadly closed down when the funding dried up,” she said.

“My wife Steffie had attended the original ShowZone when she was younger and during the first few months of Covid-19 we sat at the kitchen table and discussed the possibility of reopening it, given the impact self-isolation and lockdown was having on children here.

“In that first year they were only with us for three months, we managed to perform a Christmas carol concert online but our big plans for a variety show at Pontio in Bangor were shelved, until we finally managed to do it last October to a reduced audience over two nights.”

Steffie added: “As restrictions started to ease, we began to see more parents getting on board and more children wanting to join; to the point we have an ever-growing waiting list.

“With the support of organisations like Conwy Valley and North West Wales Coast Community Rail Partnership we were able to purchase much-needed equipment.

“As for now, our members are hard at work rehearsing for their Christmas panto and in January will start rehearsals for our next Big Variety Show in July next year – we can’t thank our supporters enough.”

ShowZone strives to give access to the performing arts to all children by keeping their activities affordable and reducing costs for families.

“The funding and generosity of our community has made all the difference, when we see how much the children enjoy it, how much they’ve grown in confidence, it is the only payment we need as volunteers,” said Eirian.

“Our members are incredibly hardworking and have built a good reputation with all who have worked with them in the performance industry. They are a credit to not only the Maesgeirchen community but the wider community too.

“We aim to ensure that no child is left behind, and with more and more people wanting to join, the future of Maes-G Showzone looks bright.  However, we can’t keep the doors open without grant funding and the continued support of the community.”

Community Rail Officer Karen Williams congratulated the volunteers on their success and hopes they will have the opportunity to join forces again in the future.

She added: “This is a brilliant example of an organisation giving back to its community, uniting people of all ages and making a real difference.

“We are so glad to have been able to play a part in their development and wish them well with their upcoming shows.”

Partnership funding is available to community organisations located within a five-mile radius of a Transport for Wales (TfW) station along the Conwy Valley and North West Wales coastal lines (Llandudno to Blaenau Ffestiniog, and Llandudno Junction to Holyhead).

Eligible applicants can submit a bid until mid-October, with up to £1000 available. There is also Greener Initiative Funding programme where groups within a one-mile radius of a TfW station in the above areas can apply for up to £500.

For more information, visit www.mantellgwynedd.com or call 01286 672626. Alternatively, follow them on social media at @mantellgwynedd.

Maes-G Showzone is on the lookout for sponsors. For more information and latest news and information from the group, visit www.maesgshowzone.com or the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/MaesGShowzonepage.