Today (30 June) Velvet Coalmine, the Blackwood festival of writing, rock & roll and coal, announce The Voice UK finalists, Into the Ark as headliners for the event taking place 7-16 September 2017.

Velvet Coalmine is now in its fourth year, bringing the best in arts, literature and music to Blackwood to inspire the community and raise the profile of the area. Into the Ark, Taylor Jones (21) and Dane Lloyd (25), originally from Blackwood, will perform alongside Mynyddislwyn Male Voice Choir at the Methodist Church on Friday 8 September.L-R, Taylor Jones and Dane Lloyd of Into the Ark

Joining the band on the Velvet Coalmine line-up are UK’s leading spoken word performers, Tongue Fu, Double Olympic Taekwondo Champion and Wales Sports Personality of the Year, Jade Jones MBE, The One Show’s science presenter, Marty Jopson, and comedian, Mike Wozniak.

With literature at the heart of the festival, there will be appearances from Young People’s Laureate Wales, Sophie McKeand and National Poet of Wales, Ifor ap Glyn. While a new playwriting and one-act play competition allows theatre groups and aspiring writers to embrace the event.

Africa Writes, the annual celebration of African contemporary literature in London will bring poetry performances, workshops for teachers, book club discussions and creative writing sessions as part of their tour of Africa and the UK. This will be their first ever visit to Wales.

Plus, the Children’s Literature Festival will return for a second year, created by Velvet Coalmine with backing from Blackwood Town Council to inspire, stimulate and engage school children through creative workshops with some of the best writers in Wales.

Blackwood, nestled in the heart of the valleys, is one of the most deprived towns in the UK with a higher than the national average level of young people leaving school with either no qualifications or GCSE at grade D (31.4% vs. 25.9%). Velvet Coalmine aims to tackle the issues the community faces, by educating and inspiring the young people who live there.

Iain Richards, founder of Velvet Coalmine, said: “We want to give everyone in Blackwood an opportunity to engage with the arts, from children through our school workshops right through to the parents with our evening events. With the help of a five-year sponsorship from Blackwood Town Council, we have worked hard to make this year’s line-up truly international, inspirational and aspirational.”

Into the Ark wowed audiences on The Voice UK earlier this year gaining UK wide recognition and a place on tour with their mentor, Tom Jones this summer.

Taylor from Into the Ark said: “There was nothing like Velvet Coalmine when we were growing up in Blackwood. It is definitely something that has been missing so we are delighted to be involved. We can’t wait to play at the festival surrounded by people who have supported us throughout our music career.”

 Tickets for all Velvet Coalmine events go on sale today apart from Into the Ark which go on sale on Friday 7 July at 9am and Jade Jones on Tuesday 1 August at 9am.

Velvet Coalmine takes place from 7 to 16 September in multiple venues across Blackwood. For the full festival programme and to get your tickets, visit: