Care home wins award for its innovative operatic workshops

A care home in North Wales, has won an award for its collaboration with the Hallé orchestra and the Welsh National Opera.

Pendine Park in Wrexham was given the arts, business and community award at the Arts and Business Cymru Awards at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff.

It won the award for the innovative way it uses the arts to improve the quality of life for residents.

Proprietor Mario Kreft, said: “Being recognised in this way has given us all at Pendine Park a real sense of pride.

“The arts gives people a sense of purpose and the work that Sarah (artist in residence) does has certainly helped residents to lead fulfilled lives. Very often, people have not realised that they have an artistic talent – so it gives them an enormous sense of achievement and pleasure.

“They look forward to the lessons and the gallery visits and the exhibitions that we put on here.

“We have also been extremely lucky to be able to work with world class musicians from the Hallé and WNO to support our projects to enrich people’s lives through the medium of music.

“I know that from the feedback I get from residents and their families how much an impact the arts has in improving their quality of life.”

Artist in resident, Sarah Edwards, said: “I was surprised but absolutely delighted that we won – not just for me and Pendine Park but also for the residents.

“I must pay tribute to Mario because when I approached him all those years ago, art therapy was virtually unheard of – especially in the care sector.

“He and his wife, Gill, are great lovers of the arts and, luckily for me, they were able to see how art can and does benefit people, enriching their lives.

“I think the arts gives the residents a focus away from their illness, it provides escapism and creativity – and something different.

“As well as our partnerships with the Hallé and Welsh National Opera, I conduct one-to-one sessions, regular group art therapy sessions and photography classes which definitely raise the spirits of the residents. We also regularly visit art galleries.”

Pendine Park and the Hallé have collaborated for the last four years to bring residents something new in the form of music workshops.

The home is now working with the orchestra to develop an in-house course for staff with a view to developing it into a nationally recognised qualification that could be rolled out across Wales.

Last year Pendine Park teamed up with the Welsh National Opera, as part of a three-year WNO residency in the town.

Residents were involved in the pioneering opera project, Nine Stories High, and their stories formed the basis of the first episode of a soap opera which is being performed and filmed on the streets of Wrexham.

Pendine Park won the Arts and Business Cymru Sustainability Award back in 2008 for its long-standing commitment to the arts.