National Youth Arts Wales – Making a difference in the lives of young gifted musicians and performers in Wales

Since its creation in 2017, National Youth Arts Wales (NYAW) has proved its success as the lead organisation now responsible for delivering Wales’ six national youth ensembles, whilst also delivering a year-round programme of exceptional creative experiences and opportunities for young people in Wales, regardless of their background.

The newly reformed NYAW is leading the way in providing exceptional opportunities in the arts for the most talented young people in Wales. It supports and showcases the extraordinary talent of young people and helps enable more young people to access pathways to excellence. NYAW champions young performers, allowing them to experiment and engage with the arts at the highest level and enable young people to experience at first hand, the richness of the creative and artistic industries in Wales. The company also creates and delivers new opportunities and new partnerships across a range of sectors to highlight the nation’s brightest and best young talent.

A truly national company, NYAW leads, strengthens, nurtures and celebrates arts and culture in Wales by contributing to and shaping the future generation of Wales as a creative nation.

 Leading the company in its efforts to broaden horizons for young performers in Wales is Chief Executive Gillian Mitchell who said “Following a hugely successful first 12 months for National Youth Arts Wales we look forward to the future. Over the next five years, National Youth Arts Wales will drive forward a bold and ambitious new vision that delivers greater access to excellence for more young people across Wales than ever before. “


Gillian continues “The company is a unified force for youth arts opportunities across Wales, a force for change, for creative ambition, for excellence and for opportunities that reflect young people’s talents in Wales.  We will listen to our young people and take forward their dreams. We know that NYAW exists in a time of change and within a rapidly transforming landscape for young people in Wales.  We will embrace this change, ensuring our organisation and our artistic programmes continue to reflect a youthful, contemporary nation.  Our programmes are designed to foster self-confidence, communicate the importance of teamwork and respect the contribution of others in the pursuit of excellence.”


In 2018, National Youth Arts Wales delivered:

  • 5 residencies – 7 weeks of intensive and rewarding training for ensemble members with industry leaders
  • 42 audition sessions across 16 audition centres throughout Wales
  • 275 young people formed National Youth Arts Wales’s brass band, choir, dance, orchestra and theatre ensembles
  • 100 professional artists and facilitators worked with National Youth Arts Wales to deliver excellence
  • National Youth Arts Wales worked with 839 young people across all their activities
  • 3974 audience members attended National Youth Arts Wales performances across Wales
  • National Youth Arts Wales awarded £16,680 in bursary funding to young people attending their summer residencies


During the company’s first year of operation they achieved:

  • First ever fully bilingual National Youth Theatre of Wales residency in Mold where over 80% of participants were first language Welsh speakers
  • Ran a joint residency for the first time between the National Youth Choir of Wales and the National Youth Orchestra of Wales, performing together under the guidance of world-renowned conductor Carlo Rizzi
  • The National Youth Brass Band of Wales performed the full version of Legacy – a new work commissioned to celebrate Aneurin Bevan and the 70th anniversary of the NHS
  • National Youth Choir of Wales were led by Tim Rhys-Evans MBE for the very first time, bringing a dynamic new energy and focus to deliver a challenging repertoire
  • National Youth Choir of Wales and National Youth Orchestra of Wales collaborated to perform the world premiere of Brian Hughes’ Sorrows of the Somme as part of the Wales remembers first World War Centenary commemorations
  • National Youth Arts Wales received project funding support from the Backstage Trust, The Colwinston Charitable Trust and the Garfield Weston Foundation to develop the outreach work with young people across Wales


Phil George, Chair, Arts Council of Wales said, “One of the Art Council’s main goals is to create an environment which inspires young people to develop their creative potential – the role that National Youth Arts Wales play is central to that vision.  NYAW give people in all parts of Wales the chance to experiment and engage with the arts at the highest level; they support the development of future Welsh talent and work to counter some of the barriers that face young people to make sure that the Arts are indeed for the benefit of all.”


Click here to learn more about National Youth Arts Wales 2018 success


Several former NYAW members who have benefited from the unique support and environment that NYAW provided them have gone on to become high-profile names within the arts and entertainment industry. They include the likes of Ruth Jones, Matthew Rhys, Rob Brydon, Michael Sheen, Steffan Rhodri, Eve Myles, Russel T Davies, David Childs, Bryn Terfel, Katherine Jenkins and Elin Manahan Thomas. Whilst many others have gone on to be leaders in the fields of medicine, law, and sport; continuing to hold themselves to the same standards of excellence many of them first experienced as members of NYAW. 


Anni Walford, a member of National Youth Theatre of Wales said “By being a part of National Youth Theatre of Wales I have gained a new family, new experiences and have seen new horizons open up out before me.”


On 21 March 2019 there will be an opportunity to hear more about the work that NYAW delivers and its future vision. The event, presented by the company’s Chief Executive, Gillian Mitchell will take place on the Glanfa Stage, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff at 11am. The event will showcase the work of some of the young people in Wales who are currently part of NYAW’s six national ensembles.


To learn more about National Youth Arts Wales visit