USERS of a Powys dance charity that was stripped of Arts Council of Wales (ACW) funding earlier this year have described the service as a “lifeline” and say the decision will have a “devastating impact” on small rural communities in the county.

The board of trustees at Impelo in Llandrindod Wells, which delivers classes and workshops throughout Powys, is "working on identifying priorities" following ACW’s investment review.

Impelo missed out on remaining part of the ACW’s multi-year funded portfolio of organisations, and the number of dance organisations fell from seven to just four across Wales, of which three are in South Wales.


The funding withdrawal also Newtown’s Hafren theatre, the Mid Wales Opera, Builth Wells’ Wyeside Arts Centre and Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon.

“The decision is a great shock because of our reach, our commitment to working with some of the most disadvantaged communities in Powys and the quality and ambition of our work,” said Impelo artistic director Jemma Thomas.

“We’ve never been passive to our responsibility as a funded organisation. I beam with joy when I witness the unique magic access to dance can have on individuals and the feedback from our communities is testament to this.

“The people of rural Wales deserve to be seen, heard and have access to wonderful and rich cultural experiences. We will do all we can to use our platform to amplify their voices.

“These cuts deeply matter and will have an impact for generations to come.”

In the weeks since the ACW announcement was made, the charity has canvassed its supporters, participants, partner organisations and freelance workforce to gain insight into the potential impact on local communities of a reduction or cessation in activities.

County Times:  A 'Do Your Thing!' Over 50's dance class. A 'Do Your Thing!' Over 50's dance class. (Image: Stella Patrick)

This will help Impelo’s directors to decide on a sustainable way forward. Among the responses Impelo received were heartfelt statements from people who have encountered their work at difficult times in their lives and who said their lives have been enriched by their engagement with the company.

These include statements from new parents facing isolation and loneliness, people living with dementia and Parkinson’s and young people with additional learning needs.

Damian Kerlin, chair of Impelo’s board of trustees, claims the disproportionate impact that cuts across artforms will have on those living in Powys amounts to a reduction in investment of almost £250,000.

“Our funding covers how we function and gives us the capacity to offer so much,” he said.

“It has enabled us to implement multi-year programmes that support professionals to live and work in the area and to put community at the heart of dance.

“It’s pretty much the funding that keeps us going; without it, it’s hard to see how we keep the glitterball turning and keep those bodies moving. We face a really uncertain future, but we are resilient, we know our worth.

“The rallying cry of support from those we have taught, worked with, who have seen us perform or supported our work in any way spurs us on as we enter a new chapter in Impelo's story, one that we are determined will be much greater than any before.”

Since January, Impelo has delivered around 1,000 dance and creative sessions, with 14,000 participations, and presented dance performances in schools, early years, health and care settings and at the dance centre. 

County Times:  Impelo has been collecting statements from new parents, people living with dementia and Parkinson’s and young people with additional learning needs. Impelo has been collecting statements from new parents, people living with dementia and Parkinson’s and young people with additional learning needs. (Image: Stella Patrick)

Around 270 people access the dance centre in Landrindod every week, providing regular and sustained income to eight dance practitioners. The charity's eldest participant is 87 and their youngest is 12 weeks old.

Bi-weekly they hold sessions beyond the dance centre, reaching people across Powys, on top of work in early years being delivered in Newtown. Ten schools the company currently supports are in the most deprived areas in Powys.

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In the last year the company has spent £109,000 on freelance dance artists and of their five part-time staff three are dance practitioners.

An open letter sent to the ACW has been signed by nearly 450 people and many of the responses can be read at; click on the ‘letter responses’ tab.

More information on Impelo’s activities and how to support their work can be found on their website at

The open letter from the dance community is available to read at