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Welsh Singer Inspires CAST Academy Pupils

Welsh rocker Ragsy

Welsh rocker Ragsy visited a very talented group of performers this month and gave them some helpful advice on music and stage presence.

The Aberdare-born singer, who swapped a chef’s apron for a chance of stardom on television’s “The Voice”, visited Michael Sobell Sports Centre to see the CAST Academy rehearsals take place.

Creative Arts Special Theatre Academy (C.A.S.T.) is a pioneering project launched by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Services For Young People and supported by the Council’s Cultural Services which aims to develop pupil behaviour, confidence and learning ability.

During the past few years hundreds of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities have engaged in creative and artistic learning opportunities through engaging with CAST. The project continues to go from strength to strength and is having a direct and positive effect on the lives of young people with special needs throughout the whole of the County Borough.

Ragsy performed three songs during his visit, including the audition song from The Voice 2013 that secured him as a contender; a song from his new album and a Stereophonics hit.

In return, the young people gave a unique performance in a Makaton form of sign language that is used by all pupils to illustrate the words which they will be performing in the forthcoming CAST Academy production “I Saw An Elephant Fly”, based on Disney’s “Dumbo”.

Cllr Eudine Hanagan, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills & Lifelong Learning said, “CAST Academy is leading the way for Disability Arts in Education and we are very proud as a local authority to be able to provide such an opportunity for our young people.

“This project helps to break down barriers and challenges the traditionally held views about pupils with special needs or low attainment and their ability to progress.

”Our pupils have total ownership and responsibility over this project and developed all manner of personal skills from the prop design and construction, performance, lighting, sound, music, front of house, box office, special effects and animation.

“The skills, confidence and sense of achievement that is acquired as a result of being part of such a robust and enthusiastic team of individuals is wonderful for everyone involved and the results are clear for all to see.

“Many pupils, particularly those who were extremely under-confident and shy or lacking in essential communication skills, visibly blossomed as a result of being part of this initiative.”

CAST Academy is a groundbreaking Arts in Education initiative, led by Services for Young People and delivered in partnership with Cultural Services, aimed at pupils attending special schools in the County Borough and involves Ysgol-Hen Felin, Park Lane Special School and Ysgol Ty-Coch.

The project enables young people living with moderate to severe or profound and complex disabilities and additional learning needs the opportunity to work with specialist community artists and experience a range of exciting artistic and cultural workshops. This then leads to a final performance and professional standard exhibition that takes place in one of the RCT theatres, supported by the experienced and specialist staff, including the theatre technicians. .

The project has the highest expectations of young people at its heart and many techniques used by artists are college, university and industry standard, in particular the visual and fine arts aspects of the programme.

Two companies – Penrhys Partnership based in the Rhondda and Citrus Arts based in Pontypridd - worked as partners on the project.

For more information on C.A.S.T. Academy please contact Lowri.M.Owen2@rctcbc.gov.uk on 01443 744000.

Visit www.wicid.tv to see the full interview with Ragsy

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