Troy Boyz: The importance of creativity in a pandemic


A community initiative called ‘Troy Boyz,’ which is supported by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) is hoping a new documentary filmed by graduates and current students will help to highlight the impact of Covid-19 on youngsters and their creativity.

A young person dances between glaring lights; another films them.

The documentary filmed in and around the Phoenix Centre, Townhill, Swansea has given the youngsters ‘the opportunity to express their views and fears about Covid-19 and the way it has affected their lives but also their hopes and dreams for life post pandemic.’

The film was produced by Jamie Panton, a graduate from the BA Film and Television course. Photos were taken by Kaylee Francis, a Photojournalism and Documentary Photography graduate, whilst Keeley-Shay Jarvis a BA Surface Pattern Design graduate was heavily involved in co-ordinating sessions and dances for the project. The film can be viewed here.

Troy Boyz was created in 2012 as part of a UWTSD initiative ‘Olion’ that engaged young people with the arts. It primarily targeted young people aged 16-19 who had experienced challenging lives and used street dance, music, and performance to inspire, engage and progress. Troy Boyz was originally an Arts Council Wales project, funded by the European Social Fund via Welsh Government.

In 2019 the Higher Education Funding Council of Wales (HEFCW) funded a pan-Wales Troy Boyz initiative that engaged participants in song-writing, scriptwriting, stage make-up, dance, music, film, and stage management.

The pandemic affected the lives of the participants in an unprecedented way. Covid-19 has created an environment of uncertainty about the future and the opportunities for young people to engage with the Arts, and in a world where unemployment is high, mental health is increasing, and the economy is unstable, young people are losing the opportunities they would have once had, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Young people with filming equipment beside a rusty iron skateboard ramp.

Jamie Wall, a member of the Troy Boyz said: "Creativity is important for the younger generation because it allows them to adapt, to get older, and kind of explore their own minds and their own being."

To support these young people, the Troy Boyz project (thanks to HEFCW) re-engaged with the participants in regular online sessions and provided a platform for them to share their worries, and to express themselves. This culminated in two days of writing, dancing, and music production. The online workshops were delivered by poet and rapper Rufus Mufasa, producer, and drummer Rich Thair and choreographer Kennedy Harris.

Former Troy Boyz member Lucas Rees said: “Troy Boyz helped me turn my life around… the fact that I’m not in trouble anymore, it gets me out, keeps me occupied. Not being able to do Troy Boyz for a year was a struggle. Due to covid, it has affected my mental health, so to be back and out socialising again… it’s stopping me overthinking.”

Rhian Hodgens joined Troy Boyz after her mother passed away. The support that Troy Boyz gave her during that time was invaluable: “I felt that I’ve been given an extra family… and it wasn’t a family that isn’t blood, but friends that are family,” she said.

Zoe Murphy, Project Manager of Troy Boyz said: “The thematic principles behind the project were decided on by the participants and were a result of a discussion around how they felt during the pandemic, how they feel about Troy Boyz and its importance to them. This provided them with a chance to discuss the whole trajectory of the pandemic.

“The group decided to use the theme of Resurgence and the legend of the Phoenix. They wanted to utilise imagery and symbolism from the story of the fire bird as they thought it best represented their journeys over the last fifteen months. This provided them with the opportunity to express their views and fears about Covid-19 and the way it affected their lives but also their hopes and dreams for life post-pandemic. I can’t stress how important this project is to the young people. It has never been about ticking boxes or being driven by numerical outputs. This project makes a difference to individuals who have suffered tragedies and hardships.”

Professor Ian Walsh, Provost at UWTSD said: “Troy Boyz is a powerful demonstration of the positive impact of creative education in changing lives and transforming the prospects of young people”.

A woman and a girl, their arms around each other, walk away from the camera.

Note to Editor

Please watch the film that the young people put together. Filmed by UWTSD Film & Television Production graduate Jamie Panton. Photos by BA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography graduate (and current Artist in Resident at UWTSD) Kaylee Francis.


 Further images available on request

Further Information

Lowri Thomas, Principal Communications and PR Officer

07449 998476