Opportunity | Robert Owen 250


See three commissions in our news section

- - - -- -- -- -- -- -

Oriel Davies, a major visual arts gallery based in rural Mid Wales with a vision to embed the arts in our local communities, to think global and act local, has the following opportunities as part of Robert Owen 250 celebrations.


Following a highly successful Robert Owen 250 Artist Residency in 2020, resident artist, Lisa Heledd Jones, produced a report with recommendations, some of which have been adopted as the project moves forward in partnership between the Welsh Government, Powys County Council, and Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn Town Council. The project is managed by Oriel Davies, with support from The Arts Council of Wales, and The Robert Owen Museum.

Robert Owen was a Welsh textile manufacturer, philanthropist and social reformer born in Newtown, Powys 250 years ago. Owen’s ideas about principled manufacturing, youth education and early child care, and the importance of community resonate with us two and a half centuries later. However, from the prism of a twenty first century position, it is important that people are provided with a rounded opportunity to understand his history with the slave trade – he is a persuasive example of how even progressive thinkers may be blinkered by the norms of their era.

As 2021 marks the 250 year anniversary of the birth of Robert Owen, the Welsh Government has been working with local partners to explore new ways of remembering this social reformer from mid Wales and telling his story in a full and rounded way. In conjunction with Oriel Davies in Newtown, the project sought to engage with the community, and open up a dialogue with local residents about the nature of such a commemoration.

Following an open competition, artist Lisa Heledd Jones was commissioned to take forward the engagement project. She undertook the research and engagement project during the past year and her final report was delivered to the local steering group earlier this year.

As a result, four specific projects will be taken forward to commemorate the life of Robert Owen.

Project Overview

The projects are:

A permanent piece of public art in Newtown to be commissioned and created by a professional artist;

A local sculpture competition for young people to explore the life and work of Robert Owen (in partnership with Mid Wales Arts Centre);

A virtual reality trail in Newtown that will tell Robert Owen’s story; and

Support to update the Robert Owen Museum including refreshed displays providing a wide-ranging account of his life, and an outreach programme for schools with a dedicated outreach officer to deliver the programme.

Given the extensive audit of statues, street and building names commissioned by the First Minister, it’s important that when we look at new commemorations and historical projects in Wales that they properly reflect all parts of a person’s history no matter how difficult. Robert Owen’s opposition to emancipation and the use of goods from American plantations, shows that despite the successes in his history, his time was not without controversy. Our work in the Government, does not seek to rewrite history, but to ensure it is properly reflected. To show individuals as they were, the good with the bad.

The project is funded by Welsh Government, Tesco PLC via Powys County Council and Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn Town Council. The partner organisations are Oriel Davies Gallery www.orieldavies.org, Robert Owen Museum www.robertowenmuseum.co.uk

There are already a number of sites commemorating Robert Owen throughout the town including a museum, plaques, sculptures, reliefs, and a tomb.

It is hoped that this project will help to establish and develop a mutually beneficial way of working for the partners that enables us to nurture a productive longer-term relationship. It is important to note that there are a number of groups in the town exploring the ideas of circular economy, community ownership, and green economy who are all keen to cooperate and be involved in the project

The project will offer an opportunity for relevant communities (including Welsh speaking communities), groups, schools, families, workers, staff and volunteers to present new ways of looking at the legacy of Robert Owen.

Key Aims

Robert Owen 250 Project Coordinator

(Up to 1 year freelance contract, with a fee of £13,120 (freelance based on approximately 77 days at £170 per day)

You will be contracted on a freelance basis to plan and deliver the Robert Owen 250 Programme outlined above and work closely with the local partners to build on local collaborative processes and ensure that the voices of communities are heard through the process. You will have the ability to inspire, experience of working with a wide range of partners and communities, excellent communication and organisation skills, and good working knowledge of the public sector. The Coordinator will need to ensure that the public artwork is completed (budget £25,000), sculpture competition takes place (budget of £5000), VR Trail is commissioned and implemented, potentially with a number of local partners (budget of £10,000) and the Museum project is completed (budget of £10,000).

Robert Owen 250 Artist Commission

Total budget of £25,000 including all fees and installation

Proposals are invited from artists to produce a permanent public artwork that explores the legacy of Robert Owen in a contemporary context and will be enjoyed by children and families of all backgrounds for years to come. It is envisaged that this will be a low maintenance artwork that could be located in the green spaces of Newtown, although all proposals will be considered.

Robert Owen 250 Virtual Reality Trail

Total Budget of £10,000

An opportunity for an individual or company to propose a VR Trail exploring the town through the life and writings of Robert Owen.

Robert Owen Museum

Freelance outreach officer working with the Robert Owen Museum (Fee of £5000 based on approximately 29 days at £170 per day)

The outreach officer will work with the project coordinator and Robert Owen Museum to manage a budget of £10,000 to update the Robert Owen Museum including refreshed bilingual displays providing a wide-ranging account of his life, and an outreach programme for schools with a dedicated outreach officer to deliver the programme.

Opportunity to work with the Robert Owen Museum to update their displays to reflect contemporary attitudes to equalities and diversity, and to improve the relevance of the displays to contemporary audiences (including Welsh speaking audiences). The person will work creatively with local schools to explore the potential for refreshing the displays with young people to make them more relevant to future generations. The person will use the budget to create bilingual displays in consultation with the Museum.


We expect the projects to be completed by March 2022

How to apply

Interested parties should submit a proposal by 9am Thursday 17th June 2021

We'd like to know about your work, and what you would bring to this project through this opportunity.

The format for this proposal is a single PDF, containing:

  1. A statement of intent (maximum 500 words) with a response or method statement for responding to the specific opportunity.
  1. A brief CV (2 pages max) with contact details of at least two referees.
  1. Up to 10 images of your work/links* to other media.

*Please provide hyperlinks to online files or a Dropbox containing the files. Time-based media should be limited to up to four clips of no longer than 5 minutes; images should be no larger than 1600 x 1200 pixels.

Information submitted in other formats will not be accepted.

The Roles will be appointed in June with start dates 28 June 2021.

For queries please email: desk@orieldavies.org

Interviews will take place mid June 2021 (22-24 June TBC)

Deadline for applications is 17 June 2021

Start Date: 28 June 2021

Registered Charity No: 1034890 www.orieldavies.org

Published: 02.06.2021