The Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, in partnership with Black Mountains College and Hay Festival has appointed two writers in residence for 2022-23. This innovative residency is one with purpose; it seeks to tackle two of the greatest challenges of our times.
Rebecca Thomas and Owen Thomas were chosen from over 130 applicants to deliver projects that address the nature and climate emergencies. Stories are key to inspiring action to protect our collective future. Rebecca has been appointed as the Welsh-language writer and Owen will be the English-language writer. Each writer will be awarded £10,000 to deliver their work over the coming year and have their work showcased at Hay Festival 2023, 25 May-4 June.
Rebecca is a writer and researcher for the School of Welsh at Cardiff University. She will deliver a series of creative non-fiction essays and a children’s book as part of her residency. Owen is a playwright who plans to develop a theatre production that will be performed at the end of the residency. Both writers will deliver a programme of activity to engage the public with their work and the natural environment.
Rebecca said: "It is an honour and privilege to be appointed Future Beacons Writer in Residence. The Brecon Beacons National Park is very close to my heart, and I look forward to producing work inspired by this special place. Since moving back to south Wales, I have had the pleasure of discovering and re-discovering the Park’s landscape, and exploring this area has prompted me to grapple with present crises through creative writing. I am very excited by the opportunity to continue to explore and learn, and to share my experiences with new audiences.
"Without doubt, the nature and climate emergencies are the greatest challenges of our time. Literature provides an opportunity to respond to these threats and to promote change. I am eager to learn more about the park’s historic environment, and to work closely with the area’s schools to incorporate the concerns and reactions of younger audiences."
Owen said: "I grew up on a farm in the Brecon Beacons and dreamt of one day becoming a writer. It is hard to put into words how proud I am to be named one of the first Brecon Beacons Writers in Residence. The mountains were a constant companion from my childhood bedroom window. I am honoured to tell their story.
"The Brecon Beacons are uniquely magical. This play will attempt to capture both their extraordinary beauty and vulnerability. It will celebrate their past, explore their present and ponder their future, harnessing and utilising the talents and the stories of all of those who call this special place their home."
Jodie Bond, Head of Communications for the National Park said, “We’re delighted to be able to offer this opportunity to two wonderful writers. Creativity sits at the heart of our new management plan. We need to find the best ways of engaging our visitors and residents with the biggest issues of our time. Stories can help shape ideas and inspire us to act in ways that that will help protect not only our treasured landscape and the wildlife that calls it home, but also the future of humanity.”
Ben Rawlence, Founding Director of Black Mountains College said, “Imagining the future is the first step to realising it and story-telling is key to that task. We look forward to working with the inaugural Future Beacons writers.”
The two writers will commence the residency in September. Details of their progress will be available at beacons-npa.gov.uk and on the National Park’s social media channels.