2020 Commission

The Award is delighted to announce that the Judges have chosen Bethan Yates, an architectural glass artist who graduated from Swansea College of Art in 2019, as the winner of the 2020 Richard Seager Annual Arts Award commission.

Bethan encapsulates everything the Award seeks to support – innovative ideas regarding the use of glass, a desire to learn and excel in her craft, and a willingness to work with both the Award and the beneficiary organisation to design and make something which is inspirational and relevant to its setting.

In view of the impact which Covid-19 is having on our families, communities and cultural heritage, the Award decided to offer the 2020 commission to an organisation or community which has made a positive impact on the lives of people who have been adversely affected by the pandemic, in recognition of their contribution to society.

English National Opera quickly recognised the increased need for medical scrubs and pivoted its skilled costume department staff towards making significant quantities for use in London hospitals. Although many of their staff were furloughed, they increased their engagement with their supporters through their media channels, and they were one of the first arts organisations to find alternative ways of making live performances available to the public, notably through their outside performances of Puccini’s La Boheme at Alexandra Palace during the autumn.

Since September, Bethan has been working with members of ENO’s Youth Theatre (under the auspices of their Baylis youth and outreach programme), through a series of facilitated online workshops, to create a piece of glass sculpture for the Sky Bar at The London Coliseum. Members of the Youth Theatre listened to excerpts of music which hold special significance for ENO and expressed their reactions through a colourful mark-making exercise. Bethan is incorporating these ideas into her design. This commission has provided members of the Youth Theatre with practical experience of working with an artist throughout the commissioning process – another first for both ENO and the Award. It should be of benefit to those Youth Theatre members who choose to pursue a career in the creative industries, in which the United Kingdom is a world leader.

At the beginning of 2021, Bethan ordered the glass to make this commission. She will start making as soon as lockdown restrictions are eased, and it is safe to return to her workshop. The commission will be installed at the London Coliseum as soon as it is practical to do so. It is the intention of ENO to involve members of their Youth Theatre in the official unveiling event, which will give long-overdue recognition for the role which Lilian Baylis played in the life of this special theatre.