Cultural Olympiad Activity Leaves a Lasting Legacy at Wales’s Iconic Heritage Sites

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Cauldrons & Furnaces

Cauldrons & Furnaces

Cauldrons & Furnaces, the Welsh Government’s Cultural Olympiad project, had its final performance in July. Seventeen spectacular community arts performances were showcased at eight Cadw sites across Wales just ahead of the start of the Olympic Games

The project inspired and captured the imagination of young people around Wales over the last three years and has created a legacy of engagement and understanding of the country’s rich heritage.

More than 12,000 visitors enjoyed the celebrations which told extraordinary stories at extraordinary locations, bringing to life Wales’s magnificent history at a time when the world’s eyes were on the United Kingdom in the lead up to the Olympics.  

Over its four year gestation, Cauldrons & Furnaces has engaged over 17,000 young people, sharing their nation’s colourful history from mythical beginnings to modern times through the creation of music, films, costumes, dances and artwork.  

The high profile celebrations took place at Wales’s castles, palaces and industrial sites in June and July, with 17 live performances and 60 exhibition days, demonstrating the diversity, skills and talents of the young people taking part.

Huw Lewis AM, Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage said: ‘Wales has showcased some extraordinary arts and cultural activity over the last four years as part of our Cultural Olympiad activity in the lead up to the Olympic Games.  Cauldrons & Furnaces has been a spectacular array of performances, and it’s been wonderful to see so many young people involved.  Not only has this project made its mark in contributing to Wales’s Cultural Olympiad activity, but also allowed communities to come together and learn more about their local heritage and what it means to them’

Marilyn Lewis, Cadw’s Director, said: ‘Cauldrons & Furnaces has been an exciting venture for Cadw, allowing the heritage sector to forge new links with artists in Wales as well as enabling communities across Wales to re-connect with Cadw sites and make them more relevant to people today. Hopefully this project will encourage local communities to continue to utilise their local Cadw sites in such imaginative ways.
Clare Williams, Cadw’s creative events programmer of Cauldrons & Furnaces explains how Cauldrons & Furnaces will leave a lasting legacy for future generations: ‘The last Cauldrons & Furnaces performance has now been and gone. The flags have been furled up, the costumes washed and packed away, the dragons, eagles and giants that populated the Cadw sites over the summer have all been distributed to the schools and communities who made them.

'However the legacy that Cauldrons & Furnaces leaves runs far deeper. The four-year project has created new partnerships between communities, kindling an enthusiasm amongst thousands of young people, who have had the opportunity to develop and perform through a range of artistic genres.
‘Across Wales hundreds of heads are still humming to the music, thousands of photographs being poured over and new friends meeting and chatting to relive the excitement of the build up and the exhilaration of performing in great iconic sites of Wales.

‘Despite a record breaking wet summer none of the 17 live events that made up Cauldrons & Furnaces were cancelled. The children and young people seemed oblivious to the driving rain and the howling winds - performing with commitment and obvious pleasure. Most of all I am inordinately proud of what was achieved - the legacy of new partnerships, over 30 music commissions, dozens of new choreographic dances, thousands of costumes and props as well as the immeasurable blossoming of confidence of all the amazing young people who took part.’

Moira Swinbank, CEO of Legacy Trust UK, said: ’We are delighted that  Cauldrons & Furnaces has been such a success. It’s fantastic that so many young people have been able to take part in the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, engage with the heritage of their local area, and put on a brilliant show. As part of Power of the Flame, the Cauldrons & Furnaces Pilgrimage and events ensured that the spirit of the Olympics was felt across Wales. As a principal funder of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival we are proud of everyone who took part in Cauldrons and Furnaces over the past three years.’

Cauldrons & Furnaces took place during June and July at eight Cadw sites across Wales including Blaenavon Ironworks, St Davids Bishop’s Palace, Caerphilly Castle and Laugharne Castle in south Wales; and at Flint, Caernarfon, Denbigh and Harlech Castles in north Wales.

Cauldrons & Furnaces is a partnership between Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, and the Arts Council of Wales. The project is part of Power of the Flame, and has been funded by Legacy Trust UK, an independent charity which is creating a lasting impact from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by funding local talent to inspire creativity across the UK.  

For more information about Cadw’s historical monuments and heritage events, visit  find Cadw on Facebook or Twitter.