A multi-year grant totalling £300,000
John co-founded the Cardiff-based music festival Sŵn (pronounced ‘soon’) with friend and Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens in 2007 to celebrate and support new music coming in and out of Wales. By 2014, when John received his Breakthrough grant, it had grown to a four-day event, delivered by John on a voluntary basis alongside other work in the Welsh music industry, but he had not found a viable basis for the festival to continue.
Breakthrough support allowed John to focus on Sŵn full-time for the first time. Over the period of Breakthrough support through to 2018, this enabled him to try out different formats for the festival, to expand its programming to work with other art forms and partners in the city, to test a new way of promoting independently in an innovative partnership with other Cardiff music industry players, to continue to develop the Welsh Music Prize, and to offer an artist development initiative BAROD. He also campaigned individually for the urgent need for a citywide music strategy in Cardiff.
In 2018, John took the decision to hand Sŵn to trusted collaborator Clwb Ifor Bach, the independent Cardiff-based Welsh language music venue and promoter, who are now taking forward the festival. The Welsh Music Prize will continue led by Huw Stephens, with support from John. John played a key role in the consultant team for the Cardiff Music Ecosystem Study commissioned by Cardiff City Council from Sound Diplomacy, published in spring 2019, and continues to lobby personally for its recommendations. John’s Breakthrough grant concluded in late 2018.