Community arts

Projects and events
run by Helen Sandler

I co-programme Aberration – arts and community events, aimed mainly at LGBTQ+ people and their friends, at Aberystwyth Arts Centre and the Bank Vault bar.

In my own right, I often take on a freelance role to manage an event or project for a few months at a time. I particularly like: running arts festivals that make the world a better place; facilitating projects that build confidence and creativity among people who’ve had a tough time or been marginalised.

Koestler curating team: victims of crime select art by offenders

For two summers in a row I was the freelance Curating Project Coordinator for the Koestler Trust exhibition of art by offenders, secure patients and detainees, at London’s Royal Festival Hall. I ran the York Lesbian Arts Festival for three years before that.

I programmed the arts stage of L Fest (the national music and arts festival for lesbians and their friends) for three years from 2011, and worked as festival coordinator for the Latin American shindig El Sueno Existe in Machynlleth in 2013 and 2015.

I led the ‘What’s Your Pride Story?’ creative writing project for Writing on the Wall and Liverpool Pride in 2016 and 2017. Working with a group of LGBT people on Merseyside, including asylum-seekers, I helped them to develop their writing, put together an anthology of their work and give readings at Pride.

In 2018 I ran a similar project in Aberystwyth (funded by Literature Wales), as well as teaching creative writing on the Summer Uni course at Aberystwyth University. The following year I taught a creative writing course for LGBTQ+ people at Tŷ Newydd, the national writing centre in North Wales.

Over the past few years, much of my focus was on my voluntary role as residents’ association vice-chair and then company director at Plas Panteidal, a chalet site near Aberdyfi. Cabin dwellers and property owners fought for a decade to see the site managed responsibly, for people not profit. The fight was won and (as of spring 2023) I have stepped away to focus on arts projects again.

Please get in touch if you think I could help with your project.