The Millennium Stadium is to become the World's largest community art gallery.
Youth painting workshops, which began at Wales' national Stadium this week with children from Penygraig Boys and Girls Club, will run until 2005 and cover the multi-event Cardiff venue's walls with sporting, acting and singing heroes and other iconic images.
Schools, youth and charity groups will be invited to the ground over the next two years under the guidance of artists Jon and Sally Phillips and each child will produce an autographed piece of art which is guaranteed to be displayed at the Stadium.
"It's going to be a little bit like painting the Forth Rail Bridge, once we have filled the many miles of wall space currently available we will be
ready to start all over again with new images," said Mr Phillips, director of Pippin's Designs Ltd, who run the 'Not for Profit' community enterprise.
"Each piece of artwork will be displayed alongside a plaque with the young artist's name, alongside their sponsor where applicable, and the groups will also receive a full tour of the Stadium during their days out."
The scheme is wide-ranging and open to groups from anywhere in Wales, but the cost implications of travel and necessary materials mean that sponsorship is vital for the project to succeed.
"Some community groups are able to meet the costs themselves and where charity's like the Ty Hafan hospice, who we have worked with in the past, are involved we have a fighting fund to make sure that money isn't an obstacle.
"But we are looking for companies to help out wherever possible with small and large sponsorship packages starting at Â£200. That ensures the company name is used on the plaque at the Millennium Stadium and offers vital help to community groups to learn new skills, interact with new people, and
create something to be proud of."
The Millennium Stadium is seen as the ideal venue for the project with one of the spare dressing rooms available as an artist's studio and almost unlimited space to hang the work.
"The project is a fantastic opportunity for Wales' national stadium to reach out to the nation," said Millennium Stadium general manager Paul Sergeant.
"Children of all ages and creeds can help us continue to build something for Wales to be proud of and take some ownership of the Stadium at the same time.
"The Millennium Stadium was built for the people of Wales and it should be accessible as such and this project will help people buy into that idea.
"Our aim is to have the largest community art gallery in the World by 2005 generated entirely by the children of Wales."
The first projects to be undertaken by children include a large mural of the Stadium itself, to dress the main vehicle and player's entrance to the ground, portraits of each member of the Wales soccer team striving to reach the Euro 2004 Finals and each of the Wales rugby squad at RWC 2003 .
Expert painting tuition for the children throughout the workshops and prepares the artwork, paints and equipment, so that the children just need to bring themselves!
World renowned artist Andrew Vicari, who originally hails from Neath, was the first to produce a piece of art for the Millennium Stadium walls.
'The Millennium Stadium Vigonade', valued at around a quarter of a million pounds, currently adorns the wall of the ground's away dressing room.
The World's highest paid living artist answered a call from stadium bosses last year to help rid the dressing room of a supposed curse by painting the offending wall in bright colours, to change the atmosphere in the room. Vicari's painting depicts a rising sun, a galloping horse and a soaring phoenix and attracts much attention during official Millennium Stadium
tours and on match-days.
"The community art project is a wonderful idea and the Stadium will reap the benefits from it," said Vicari.
"I was honoured to be given the opportunity to offer a piece of my art to the Millennium Stadium which is already a national icon for Wales and it will provide a wonderful setting for these pieces if artwork which the children produce.
"Art can be a great therapy and it is a great way of bringing groups of people together who wouldn't normally meet and showing them the joy of creativity.
"I'm looking forward to revisiting the stadium and experiencing the explosion of vibrant colours and images that this project will produce."
The Half a Game initiative is currently sweeping across Wales and proving a major success. The scheme aims to give every young player at least half a game every weekend. WRU TV recently visited a festival in Narberth where clubs have fully embraced the initiative.
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