THE first Arts Council Wales Elan Valley Creative Wales Fellowship, supported by Arts Council of Wales, has been awarded to Cardiff-based Welsh /Turkish author and playwright Meltem Arikan.

She has dedicated her life to writing against the patriarchal system and fighting for freedom of speech and expression. Meltem is known for her sharp critique of society and fearless voice in her novels, plays, poems and articles.

Meltem has received several awards and was short-listed for the Freedom of Expression Award in 2014 by Index on Censorship for her play ‘Mi Minor’, which the Turkish authorities claimed was a rehearsal for the Gezi Park demonstrations in 2013.

Their subsequent hate campaign, fuelled by state sponsored media forced her to flee from Turkey and since then has made Wales her home.

Meltem Arikan said: “Wales wrapped, me, hugged me, talked to me like a mother during the most difficult time in my life. I am looking forward to discovering a new part of Wales and myself which has been made possible through this award.”

The prestigious artistic fellowship opportunity to reside in the Elan Valley for a year has been made possible thanks to Arts Council of Wales funding, National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Elan Links project partners.

Dr Ieuan Joyce, chairman of the Elan Links partnership and Elan Valley Trust said: “We are looking forward to welcoming Meltem to reside here in the Elan Valley and excited about what might develop from her time spent here in this special place.”

Louise Wright, Arts Council of Wales portfolio manager said: “Arts Council Wales is delighted to support this important opportunity for artists.

The fellowship, open to all artforms, complements an established programme of visual arts residencies, that together demonstrate the extraordinary potential of the Elan Valley as a unique creative space.”

Catherine Allan, partnership member for Elan Links and chair of trustees at CARAD (Community Arts Rhayader and District) said: “We see the Fellowships as an investment in an artist’s creative development, not only for them as individuals, but for further developing the Elan Valley and surrounding area as the creative heart of Wales.”

The Fellowships form part of the artist residency opportunities currently on offer at Elan Valley through the Elan Links: People, Nature and Water landscape partnership, which is an investment of £3.3 million over five years by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Elan Valley Trust, Dŵr Cymru, Community Arts Rhayader and District, Tir Coed and Natural Resources Wales.

The Elan Valley Creative Wales Fellowships offer a unique opportunity for artists based in Wales at a significant juncture of their career in any art form, including music, literature, theatre, visual arts, craft, dance and film.

This is the first year-long fellowship award, for 2019/2020 with a further one offered for 2020/21. The selection is a competitive process with applications invited from Wales-based practising artists of all spectrums.

The successful Fellow will need to demonstrate track record and how they could benefit from the Fellowship opportunity which includes an award of £9,000 in funding. The only requirement is that the Fellow must reside at the Elan Valley for a significant amount of time within the 12-month period to enable full immersion. As such up to six months’ accommodation within the Elan Valley will also be included.