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National Theatre Wales
2014 - 2016


It could be argued that our political system is at breaking point. Some say politicians act in the interest of corporations and not of the people. Throughout the world there seems to be an air of discontentment. 

National Theatre Wales’ Assembly programme has developed into a three-year programme of work called The Big Democracy Project, which explores how art and creativity can play a part in helping communities across Wales re-engage with the democratic process. We’ve already started asking Wales what the big questions for the future are - and how we should go about making changes. Scroll down to find out how this search will lead us to the heart of Welsh Government to choose the biggest issue facing the nation - and to decide what kind of a theatre production we should make about it.

The Manifesto

Through its Big Democracy Project, National Theatre Wales aims to...

  • ask big questions about our democracy;
  • help Wales imagine the future it wants;
  • make a real change to the lives of people in Wales and beyond; and
  • instigate action through art.

The Big Democracy Project is supported by the Rayne Foundation.

Phase 1: Regional Assemblies

We are now reaching the end of the first phase of the Big Democracy Project, in which four democratically selected events are held in north, south, mid and west Wales.

Like our Assemblies (performance/debates events), BDP Regional Assemblies are proposed and organised by local communities, voted for by the public, and at their core will be a discussion on how we can create the Wales we want. But where previous Assemblies could be on any subject dear to the bidder’s heart, the Big Democracy Project will focus on local political issues with a national, or even global relevance. And crucially, an emphasis will be made on action - what can each of the four communities do to move us closer to the Wales we want?

The first Regional Assembly took place in Bangor in October 2014, after we invited proposals from across North Wales. Bethesda-based poet Martin Dawes put forward the idea of exploring Voter Apathy.

The second was held in Cardiff in March 2015, representing south Wales. Oasis Asylum and Refugee Centre asked why identity is important.

The third, proposed by Celf o Gwmpas who work with disabled artists, asked ‘Are disabled people an easy target for cuts?’, and was held in Llandrindod Wells in June 2015.


Phase 2: The Senedd Event

A special event will be held on Saturday 19 March 2016, to conclude the first phase of the Big Democracy Project and to launch and the second phase. This will be a day-long event held in and around the Senedd building in Cardiff Bay as part of the Welsh Assembly’s 10th birthday celebrations. The Senedd event will include debates and discussions, and culminate with an Assembly in the foyer during the evening.

This event will be a unique opportunity to bring together members of the public, artists, political activists and analysts, and mainstream politicians to discuss the burning issues they feel are facing Wales and the political landscape, both nationally and internationally.

There will be three points of focus for the day:


1. To create a platform and opportunity for political debate and discussion. This can be in the form of a speakers’ corner or talks/presentations that fall under the general theme of democracy. It could include performance, music, art etc.

2. To create a performance/debate event that explores the four themes discussed in the four regional Assemblies.

3. To identify the big theme or issue that Wales would most like to debate – this theme will become the focus for the third phase of the BDP.

Phase 3: 2016-2017

During this period, we will be working across Wales with artists and communities to develop a major piece of work on the big theme chosen at the Senedd event, to be produced in 2017.


Throughout the BDP: The People’s Think Tank

The People’s Think Tank is an interdisciplinary group of problem-solvers; artists, NTW TEAM members, members of the communities of Wales

The Think Tank’s aims are to:

  • give a collective voice for the people of Wales, around issues of democracy and politics, arts and culture;
  • pursue tangible outcomes from the Big Democracy Project;
  • encourage a new collective voice; and to
  • help shape the next phase of The Big Democracy Project.

They will do this by:

  • working within the Big Democracy Project to listen and contribute to conversation;
  • learning, analysing, and sharing ideas online;
  • holding periodical online debates;
  • presenting some of their findings to the National Assembly in March 2016;
  • react to government policy, proposals, papers and recommendations; and
  • influencing the direction of the Big Democracy Project;