Children do charity

March 19, 2009 at 11:18 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

With charity and giving being on everyone’s mind at the moment for Comic Relief tonight (Fri), people are putting themselves through all kinds of trials and tribulation to raise money for children both in the United Kingdom and Africa.

This year the slogan is ‘Do something funny for money’, and students, schools and businesses all over Cardiff are performing tasks such as dressing in pyjamas all day to telling jokes to raise funds for the cause.

But what happens when all the fun surrounding Comic Relief stops? It is easy to forget the help that is needed, especially in Africa where children are suffering daily. One Cardiff school broke the trend and decided last year to raise money for an East African orphanage, so they would receive money and help at a time of year when they may not be in the forefront of everyone’s mind.

Albany Primary School, Albany Road, Plasnewydd celebrated their harvest festival in October by raising money for the East African Mission Orphanage in Kenya. Now the money has been put to good us and the orphanage has just managed to buy new bunk beds with the donations that were raised by the pupils. The beds means the children, who are in the orphanage after losing their parents to disease or not being properly cared for, can have a better night’s sleep and be more comfortable in their surroundings.

All classes, from class one to class 14 took part in the Harvest Festival on October 6. They had the choice of either donating food to local homeless centres or donating money to the orphanage. They managed to raise £150 to be sent to Kenya. Jody Sage, 27,teacher of class 9 pupils, helped organise the donation to Mission Orphanage after she travelled through Africa and had visited the orphanage herself.

The school prefers to donate to a cause that is linked to one of their teachers, so Mrs Sage suggested the orphanage would be perfect as the children would be able to relate to it by helping other children.

Mrs Sage said: “We spent 24 hours at the orphanage with the children. They are children at the need of the day and need help. It is a brilliant orphanage but it is only voluntary so they need support.”

The orphanage has been established for more than 10 years, and provides a home for more than 125 children and teenage mothers. They care for children who would end up either dying a premature death through malnutrition, or walking the streets in search of food. They often turn to as a means of survival. The children are often taken into Kenyan gangs and are exploited by the gang leaders. The orphanage tries to find the children and help them before they are forced onto the streets.

Because they are so short of funding, they rely on donations to survive. The orphanage only applies to children who are orphans, not HIV victims, which Mrs Sage say is a problem for the institution, as HIV sufferers often get a lot of coverage and support but places such as the orphanage are overlooked.

The children at Albany Primary School were sent photos of the orphans and the new beds they had brought with the donations from the school. Mrs Sage said the children were very pleased to have seen the photos and how their money had been used to help other children like themselves.

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Capturing Cardiff

January 14, 2009 at 3:43 pm (Uncategorized)

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Going to the local theatre has always been part of entertainment in society. Historically, it used to be only for the rich and entertainment in local theatres was for royalty or the aristocracy. Then it became open to the masses and its role in periods of such as the Second World War was integral to keeping the nation’s spirits up in a time of disaster and emotional strain. But what is its role today?

The New Theatre, Cardiff

The New Theatre, Cardiff

Cardiff certainly does not suffer from a lack of theatre offerings to locals in the city. But it doesn’t seem to play the role that it used to for entertainment. Is local theatre in Cardiff dead? There is a strong argument for it, especially when there are so many factors that it now has to compete with.

The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff

The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff

Its influence and place in the city has certainly decreased and it is not getting the figures that it used to. Performing Arts revenue for the economy went from £0.9 billion in 1998 to £0.5 billion in 2001, a trend that seems to be continuous. The Laughing Audience theatre group suggested on average a performance only gets 55% audience capacity, a figure that leaves theatres in debt if they cannot get subsidies for their losses.

That is not to say that theatre will drown in a sea of new entertainment, but those in the profession are in for a struggle to keep themselves going for audiences who still hold the theatre close to their hearts.

We live in a world where cheap entertainment is right at our fingertips and theatre does not seem to fit in anymore. In Cardiff, there are at least 4 venues that put on shows within a 10 minute walk from Queen Street. But then so is the cinema, entertainment shops and gig venues.

Cineworld, Cardiff

Cineworld, Cardiff

You don’t even have to leave the house to be entertained anymore, most of us have a wide collection on DVD’s, so it requires minimal movement and with on demand television we can watch our favourite television shows when we like, leaving almost no need to pay to go to the theatre.

HMV, Cardiff

HMV, Cardiff

It has become increasingly difficult for young people to find the desire or inclination to go. They have grown up in a time when Hollywood’s budget is beyond our comprehension and we can witness the most talented actors with the world’s best special effects for a mere £5 and the theatre looks a bit dull in comparison. With Cardiff focusing on its sporting entertainment and music venues the theatre can easily be overlooked.

Cineworld, Cardiff

Cineworld, Cardiff

David Bond, Head of Acting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, admits that figures are not what they used to be. But he feels it has come to equilibrium and local theatre will not decline any further.

He said: “There is no decline in popularity here. Our shows often sell out.”

The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

Mr Bond felt there would always be demand for live theatre performances as people get tired of television and film.

He said: “People buy CDs but they still want to go to the concerts. People have said theatre is in decline for many years, but it is still relatively healthy. People will always go to London to see high profile shows but there is still a substantial audience for theatre locally.”

The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

Mr Bond said theatre struggled against new forms of entertainment as it was not a commodity and could not be used again to show on repeat.

He added: “I think it will survive. Theatre will change but it won’t go. It is part of the community as much as swimming pools, libraries or museums.”

Hannah Rix, an amateur dramatics performer, with R.A.T.S, a local theatre company, agrees local theatre in Cardiff is still popular.

She said: “I think local theatre in Cardiff is thriving. As a huge fan of performing and watching local theatre productions I’m spoilt for choice. There are a large number of amateur companies in Cardiff, many of which have made a good name for themselves among local people.”

The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff

The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff

Despite pressure from London West end shows to attract audiences, Miss Rix suggests that these actually have the opposite effect on theatre’s popularity in Cardiff and the big shows in the West end and from popular reality television programmes such as ‘I’d do Anything’ have helped make theatre in Cardiff more successful.

She said: “Professional companies do very well at venues such as the New Theatre and the Wales Millennium Centre, but amateur companies such as Orbit Theatre have a very large following. I think it’s a good thing that theatre lovers have a more affordable opportunity to enjoy performances. Talent searches provide huge publicity for West End theatre productions and I think this has a positive knock on effect for amateurs.”

It seems many people are still attracted to the theatre but the wide choice of other entertainment forms that are cheaper, which is crucial in the time of economic instability, plays a part in falling audience figures.

Local theatre has its place and perhaps it will survive, it would be sad if it did not, but it needs to change and bring out something spectacular to wow audiences back to its doors.

Relevant websites

· http://www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk/english/index.asp

· http://www.stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk/english/index.asp

· http://www.shermancymru.co.uk/

· http://www.rwcmd.ac.uk/

· http://www.laughingaudience.co.uk/

· http://www.theatre-wales.co.uk/amdram/index.asp

· http://www.everymantheatre.co.uk/

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I’ve got love for you if you were born in the 80’s…

December 10, 2008 at 6:32 pm (new age journalism, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

//montaraventures.com/pix/rubikcube.jpg

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I think it is fairly evident for all to see that a lot has changed since the 1980’s. I imagine this is something that most of us are pretty grateful for, especially when thinking about the bad clothing and the hairstyles! Even though I only got to enjoy four years of this glorious decade, I do know it was pretty fun, but I think most of it should be left in  the 1980’s, especially luminous clothing and make-up. Some of the music was great-David Bowie, Blondie just to name a few. Other things were not so great-including the journalism.

Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC Technology Correspondant spoke to us about how journalism has changed since the 1980’s and I think it’s fair to say it has come a long long way. Looking at clips of news from the 1980’s was not only slightly embarassing to watch, but many of us laughed. It seemed ridiculous to us that people would actually wear glasses that took up two thirds of their face, or that journalism was done using cartoons, badly shot footage and hardly any graphics. If graphics were used they were of the most basic kind and did not tell you much about the story itself.

Back in the 1980’s broadcast journalism was basic. But the audience was huge, as the choice was fairly limited. There was no 24 hours which seems strange as it is so infiltrated in our news consumption now.

There was also limited interactivty- callers were treated as mad or strange individuals and of course there was not email or text, unlike today where all we see is user generated content filtered into all aspects of news programming.

In some ways it is easy to think that being a journalist in the 1980’s was harder then than it is now, as we have a lot more tools to do things for us. I personally think it has actually become a harder profession with the proliferation of technology into the industry. Journalists now have to be multi-skilled and be able to use all aspects of the technology, from writing to filming. You can no longer be amazing at just one aspect of the trade.

We also now have to learn to be interactive and deal with the pressure from user generated content. I always think that high quality journalism will triumph in the end, but we are now under more pressure to make sure our work is of a high quality.

The 1980’s may have been a period that people look back on wistfully, thinking about their school discos or trying to hide their shame and embarassment. It is no different for journalism and I’m sure in another 20 years or so we will feel the same about this period. At the moment we just need to keep moving with the times and rise to the challenge that the techonological innovation has brought us.

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You won’t stop the children of the revolution…

November 16, 2008 at 6:07 pm (Uncategorized) ()

 

The revolution is here! ‘Hooray!’ I hear you cry, which is likely to be followed by a look of confusion. ‘What revolution?’ Well, as strange as it may sound to those under the age of 30, the revolution to which I refer is the internet.

This may have confused you even more. You are not alone; I hadn’t considered myself to be in a revolution either. I always associated revolutions with particular characters in history, Che Guevara, Henry VIII, Martin Luther. Or with particular period in history, the industrial revolution, the French revolution, or the revolution of communication, beginning with the printing press in 1440.

Growing up with the internet meant I always assumed it had just been there. Of course, I knew that it hadn’t existed much past my first few years after birth, but I never really realised its potential or how it had been developing.

That is until I started looking at it more closely. I was one of those people who used to internet very superficially, just for msn (which was then taken over by my facebook addiction) and maybe to look up something for my school homework. It did not stretch further than that.

And that may not have been a bad thing. I was just an example of how the web can be used as a social tool. In fact, I was just using it for its desired purpose. The web was designed to be social and now people like me are stealing it back. I use the internet for many things now, but I still return to my roots and use social networking, and I am just one of the nearly 200 million members that do this.

The people are taking the internet back from corporations who have used if for profiteering. And why shouldn’t they have used it for this purpose? They saw a chance and seized it. But the balance was wrong and now it is shifting back to a slightly more even playing field. Joe Trippi, in his book, The Revolution will not be Televised, argues this, and says that the internet is being passed back to the people and will create a grassroots model for revolution.

Looking at it now, I am beginning to comprehend just what significance the internet has had over the last two decades and how it will continue to expand and change the ways in which we behave and work. It is a revolution, and we are only in the beginning stages. As with many revolutions previous to this one, no one can be sure of what the outcome will be or when it will be. But when it comes, I hope it will have been worth the wait. As for now, I am looking forward to it, and enjoying what we have currently, a tool that is beyond comprehension for many of us, but one which brings us power and communication that we would not otherwise have at our disposal.

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