Since becoming Councillor, Ffion Meleri Gwyn has provided inspired leadership to a range of creative and innovative projects, contributing massively to the well-being of the Criccieth community during a very testing time. As an artist and a teacher herself, Cllr Gwyn spearheaded a creative strategy for Criccieth that realised significant participatory creative projects for the community. The Ty’n Rhos Rainbow Bridge, for example, is a colourful installation inspired by an 8-year old boy, designed by Cllr Gwyn, supported by local businesses and contributed by dozens of local volunteers. Ty’n Rhos is a housing estate on the outskirts of Criccieth, which has a younger demographic than the rest of the town and most of the pupils in the local school come from the estate. The area was perceived by some in the community to be marginalised socially as well as geographically. The collaboration of residents on the Rainbow Bridge has shifted this perception by emphatically re-instating Ty’n Rhos as a valued part of the community. The Bridge now serves as a colourful and dramatic entrance not only to Ty’n Rhos but to the whole town and has become a symbol of renewed hope in the community.
Cllr Gwyn also introduced Friendship Benches to the town to encourage inter-generational contact and combat loneliness via the colourful artwork of the benches themselves. The friendship benches were part of a project spearheaded by Cllr Gwyn called Songs, Places, Legends which involved partners such as Age Cymru as well as the local primary school, local historians, poets and singer-songwriters who worked creatively on the history and legends of the local area to enhance a connection between the older and younger generations in the community, Working with the local Community Allotments and Buttefly Garden, alongside partners such as Friends of Nature Garden and Gwynedd Council’s Biodiversity Unit, Cllr Gwyn used creative activity and information boards to encourage wellbeing and an awareness of biodiversity. Within the creative projects, Cllr Gwyn works scrupulously in her commitment to the two languages spoken in the Criccieth Community – the allotment information boards, as well as a creative town map, are thoroughly bi-lingual and inclusive.
In the time of Covid, Cllr Gwyn has made the case for creativity in partnership by setting an example of how, despite all the necessary restrictions, it was and remains possible and beneficial to innovate, create and make art a community adventure.
What the judges said:
“Councillor Ffion Meleri Gwyn’s passion for arts and culture shines through. She clearly devotes time and energy to arts and culture, demonstrating leadership and an understanding of the power and impact of arts and culture for communities”
“Councillor Ffion Meleri Gwyn embodies the strong community spirit which clearly exists in the Cyngor Tref Criccieth council area. It is very easy for elected representatives to make speeches and lofty commitments to improving an area; it is much more difficult for them to actually make a difference, and be involved with it personally as Cllr Gwyn has. It is clear from her nominations that she has been extremely active in supporting the area and her constituents to use culture and the arts to bring people together.”