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A super Summer of Fun at the Memo

a 30 foot inflatable sperm whale in beached on the Memo carpark

This summer we were delighted to be part of Summer of Fun, with 1,700 participants and audience members taking part with us. Memo Arts Centre was supported by the Vale of Glamorgan Council to create and deliver a fun-filled three-month programme packed with free activities for young people aged 0-25. Summer of Fun was funded by Welsh Government. It aimed to support the wellbeing of children and young people to continue their recovery from the Covid restrictions of the last two years, with the added benefit of supporting families with the costs of activities over the summer holidays.

Summer of Fun at the Memo kicked off with The Curious Case of Aberlliw, an interactive performance in Lower Gladstone Gardens created by Taking Flight Theatre in partnership with LAS Theatre. Guided by an excellent case of Deaf, disabled and non-disabled performers, with integrated BSL and Audio Description, audiences joined the Department of Strange Events to solve puzzles and plant seeds. Welsh language performances of the work, Achos Rhyfeddol Aberlliw, were also well attended. Offering a number of free tickets for these performances introduced new audiences a special experience.

Having interactive events outdoors is fantastic. We didn’t stop laughing. We really enjoyed ourselves. We love theatre and love being outdoors – perfect combo! Use of BSL was fantastic and wonderful for my hearing children to experience. Loved it!!

children in bright raincoats talk to two detectives in the park a family solve clues from an envelope a family huddle around a tablet in the park

In July and September, Memo Starlings introduced brand new Move and Groove stay and play sessions with Sam Barnard. The focus was on physical movement and play. Thanks to Summer of Fun, we were able to make these pilot sessions free for 0-5 year olds and their grown ups. We had some fantastic new equipment to work on our gross motor skills, balance, coordination and strength. From the climbing frame to the balance bikes the Starlings has a busy, super fun time!

Great quality equipment, access to toys we don’t have at home. Clean, organised, my son had lots of fun. 

a balance bike is on the ground with brightly coloured cones a toddler walks towards a wooden climbing frame a child steps across a balance board

The first week of the summer holidays set the Summer of Fun tone at the Memo with Circo Rum Ba Ba and their giant inflatable sperm whale landing outside the building. 240 people climbed inside the belly of The Whale for storytelling over the day, with Circo Rum Ba Ba entertaining them with puppetry and tales.

The whole performance was excellent and really immersive. Brilliant concept and way young people were educated in a fun way about conservation and non-littering. Great setting and the actors were extremely engaging. 

a hand drawn sign for the show with a picture of a whales reads "Plastic Ocean FREE" with the times of the shows a whale shaped sign post  lots of family audience gather outside The Whale, it's summer so the children are in shorts and tshirts and parents in dungarees

Saturday Drama Workshops took place each week through August and September for ages 11-18. Facilitated by the marvellous Megan Mattravers, partcipants explored playwriting, masks, text to stage, and plenty of drama games and making friends. This lovely group of young people created some incredible work.

My son absolutely loves this workshop, and it is really helping him. I very much hope it can continue. My son really enjoys it… A huge thank you for organising it. It’s really helped with his confidence too. 

the drama workshop participants wear masks and hold up signs about revolution stage designs drawn by participants

Summer of Fun enabled us to offer a small number of targeted tickets for Mermarella, Cinderella of the Sea. This gorgeous puppet and shadow puppet performance from Indigo Moon Theatre entranced the audience and was followed by an extraordinary interactive shadow puppetry workshop.

It was captivating. Loved the different types of puppets – variety kept it fresh for the little ones. The added workshop was great and the chance for them to do a show of their own was fab. A great experience. The best 2 hours we’ve booked all holiday. 

children and a parent walk in front of a shadow puppet tent a bright torch light glows a child cuts thick black paper into shapes with scissors

Familia de la Noche brought their outdoor theatre production of The Great Insect Games in English and Trychfiliod a’r Campau Campus in Welsh to the dreamy setting of Lower Gladstone Gardens. Families joined in with the fun and games with music from HMS Morris. Big thanks to the Vale of Glamorgan Parks team for making the space a little flowery haven for this funny bug show.

It was great to watch an outdoor performance, we enjoyed that it was bilingual, the interaction with children and adults was wonderful, the performers were fantastic. It was overall a fantastic experience. 

two actors dressed as bugs pose in yellow leggings and wings in the park peeping through the grasses at the park we can see families watching the play in the park

Our final Summer of Fun show of the school holidays was an intergenerational lunchtime concert by percussion duo ConunDrum in our first floor space The Gam. This was the final in a series of lunchtime concerts in 2022, with Summer of Fun enabling families to try a live music concert for the first time.

There was a lovely relaxed feel. 

September, the final month of Summer of Fun, opened with a bang as Citrus Arts brought their amazing Make and Take Workshops to the Memo. Families made their very own circus items, hula hoops and poi, and were taught some tricks.

Something silly and fun to do. It was a bonus that it was free. Lovely people leading the sessions. Chilled atmosphere. The kids loved the hoops and pois they made. Great to be shown how to use them. Lots of lovely families taking part. Happy days. 

children wrap brightly coloured tape around hula hoops a boy in a rainbow tshirt swings his handmade poi next to a sign that reads Make and Take Workshop at the Box Office entrance to the Memo  a little girl in goggles is helped by her smiling mum and a Citrus Arts facilitator to saw a hula hoops. her brother looks bewildered in the background

Familia de la Noche returned to the Memo with Clown School. Yes, you read that right, Clown School. The teenage participants dismissed seriousness and embraced silliness. What could be more Summer of Fun?!

Thanks for having us on Saturday. We had a great time. Lots of laughing!

Our final Summer of Fun show was September’s Comedy Club, which saw us make free tickets available for ages 16-25. It was a night of chuckles and guffaws curated by Little Wander with stand up comedy sets from Michael Fabbri, William Stone, Kate McGann and Ignacio Lopez.

Hysterical… Fab night at the Memo tonight. Haven’t laughed that much in ages. 

As well as all of this, we welcomed 450 audience members to nine cinema screenings with free tickets for Minions: Rise of Gru, The Railway Children Return and The Forgiven. It was really important to us that we made opportunities available for all ages from 0 to 25 so cinema proved a popular way to appeal to older teenagers and young adults. Many audiences hadn’t been to the pictures since pre Covid and it was our absolute pleasure to share these movies with them.

an actor in character with a magnifying glass and a fake moustache smiles at the camera a facebook post from a parent saying what a lovely time they had at The Great Insect Games children are being shown how to swing their poi by Citrus Arts

Thank you again to the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Welsh Government for their support through Summer of Fun funding. As you can see, we were able to bring laughter and friendship, family fun and silliness, in Welsh and English, indoors and in fresh air, to children and young people after a rubbish couple of years. We hope to see you all again very soon.


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