Plwg is an all-Wales arts, culture and education matchmaking website to support collaboration between teachers, creatives, arts and cultural organisations.
In 2015, it was announced that the arts were expected to play a bigger role in the Welsh curriculum for 2015-2020 as Wales saw the creative industries as a key area of economic growth. In addition, the Arts Council Wales (ACW) was keen to reduce their direct funding to artists and instead invest in helping artists deliver semi-commercial services – in this case, to schools. As a result, four Welsh charities were given funding by ACW to develop digital tools to help connect artists and teachers – with the hope that artists could help teachers deliver aspects of the curriculum, and in turn, schools would give artists new opportunities for revenue.
Originally, ACW funded the creation of four networks in different geographic regions of Wales. Each of these networks had regional responsibilities both for providing professional development for teachers in the arts, but also to develop a platform for teachers and artists in that region to share opportunities to work together. Each of the networks had a different approach in trying to connect artists and teachers. One had a Facebook page to facilitate networking; another had a blog category of available opportunities.
Our client, the Arts Active Trust, is responsible for running the South Central network. They had an existing webpage to promote the charity, but realised that this project (i.e. connecting artists and teachers, which they called A2:Connect) needed a separate web presence. The main objective of A2:Connect was to promote connections between artists and teachers in South Wales using Opportunities (our word for a listing that both artists and teachers can create). In the project kick-off meeting, we realised that the key to the success of the project would be the quantity and quality of Opportunities on the site. As a result, we realised that the ‘content creator’ experience was very important: we had to make it easy to create Opportunities, but also ensure that those Opportunities were high quality (in both English and Welsh). To do this, we created a sort of ‘wizard’ interface for creating Opportunities, where users are presented with different scenario-based guidance on how to create their Opportunity depending on their role and the target audience.
After two years of having four separate regional networking sites, our approach for A2:Connect was validated as ACW wrapped up the networking aspects of the independent regional sites (they carry on providing local professional development) and funded the rebranding of the A2:Connect app as Plwg. Plwg now exists somewhat separately from the individual networks and has a clear purpose: an all-Wales network for finding arts and education opportunities.