This April The Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre are delighted to be supporting The Talking Shop©, a cultural and democratic information centre which comes to Newport city centre in partnership with Omidaze, Youth Cymru and Welsh Government.

The Talking Shop is a public space which explores the intersection between cultural and democratic participation one conversation at a time. Opening in Unit 9 Friars Walk, Tin Shed Theatre Co.'s multi-functional pop-up arts and community space, The Talking Shop© will create a face to face democratic and cultural engagement space and a shop window for creativity and democracy combined.

Inside The Talking Shop© there will be The Democracy Box© which supports young people to find new creative ways to understand our UK democracy and can take part in it.

These provide an opportunity for young people and artists to discuss and understand our UK democracy and politics. The Democracy Box© finds new creative ways to increase democratic participation, including amongst young people, and provide information about the UK’s democratic system and structures.

The Democracy Box© works predominantly with young people aged 16-26, born or based in Wales, as paid co-creators and seek to increase democratic participation and provide information about the UK’s democratic system and structures.

Yvonne Murphy from Omidaze (OhMyDays) Productions said

‘Omidaze is delighted to be partnering with The Riverfront and Newport Live and Youth Cymru and to have been awarded one of the third sector grants from the Local Democracy Division of the Welsh Government to trial new and innovative ways to increase democratic participation which will support the re-opening of The Talking Shop in Cardiff in March this year.

“We are very excited that the first trial secondary Talking Shop will be in Newport which will also open its doors in April ahead of the local elections and we would like to say our deep felt thanks to the Riverfront, Youth Cymru and Welsh Government for supporting and partnering on this work.’

Julia Griffiths, Joint CEO Youth Cymru adds:

‘We are delighted to be working with The Riverfront and The Talking Shop© to support voter registration in Wales; we are looking forward with gratitude to being a part of this creative, innovative and necessary work to promote democracy and cultural participation in Wales.’

The Riverfront were delighted to be approached to partner with this project and continue to support young people in the community. Newport has a passionate history for engaging with the democratic process and the arts centre believe by engaging in creative activity young people can truly find their voice.

Danielle Rowlands, The Riverfront’s Education and Participation Arts Development Officer comments:

‘This is such a vital project for young people to get involved in and engage with. Our young people are the future and their voices need to be heard, yet many are not registering to vote. We hope that through this project young people gain more understanding of our democratic system and have more confidence to stand up and vote for what they believe in.’

Emily Mae Jones (18) Democracy Box© young co-creator said:

‘I wanted to learn more about democracy and politics but I could never find a clear explanation in a way I could understand until I joined this project. As well as developing my own knowledge I have the amazing pleasure of educating other people about UK Democracy and highlighting that there is absolutely no shame in not knowing - because I didn’t either.

My outlook has completely changed on UK Democracy. I finally feel confident instigating conversations about democracy and also just being involved in discussions.’

The Democracy Box© began as a Clwstwr research and development project 2020-21 and this ongoing work has been made possible through this initial investment from Clwstwr which is an innovation programme for the South Wales screen sector, funded by the Creative Industries Clusters Programme which is part of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy.

The Talking Shop© will open in Unit 9, Friars Walk in April. Young people are encouraged to pop along to the space and engage with creativity and democracy. Find out more about the project here: