Theatre in Wales

Commentary and extended critical writing on theatre, dance and performance in Wales

An action plan for the future development of cultu

The purpose of this paper is to enable the Minister for Culture, Sport and the Welsh Language to share with the Culture Committee the final draft of h

The National Assembly for Wales can take pride in the fact that it has given so much attention to cultural issues in the first two years of its life.


A review of cultural policy was one of the first tasks undertaken by the former Post-16 Education Committee. Even before the Committee had completed its task and published its report, the new Partnership Government established, in October 2000, a new Cabinet position of Minister for Culture, Sport and the Welsh Language and a corresponding committee. I too am proud of that achievement and to be the first holder of the post.

The report of the Post-16 Education Committee, A Culture in Common, has given the Assembly a valuable survey of some of the deeper cultural issues and a foundation for the Partnership Government’s thinking and strategy. Our task now is to refine that thinking into a clear vision, an achievable strategy, and practical action plans.

I believe this document sets out a bold vision for the future and an ambitious strategy for the next decade. However, the strategy cannot be set in concrete for it is inevitable that our aspirations for Wales will change over time, as our circumstances change and as we - and the way in which we think of ourselves - change. Nevertheless, we must begin to chart and take the steps needed to fulfil the vision as we see it today.


Wales has a rich past and a wealth of present day talent but it still has an opportunity to achieve a new cultural transformation. The National Assembly must take a lead in bringing about that transformation - in our thinking, planning and funding and, as a result, in our delivery. If we achieve that it will inevitably result in greater recognition and profile for Wales, with all the wider benefits that that can bring.

This will also mean fulfilling the National Assembly’s commitment to equality of opportunity for all of the people of Wales. Sporting facilities, arts centres, theatres, recreational facilities should all be accessible to all people regardless of age, religion, language, disability, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. The whole of this document should, therefore, be read with that binding principle in mind.

I believe passionately that our cultural life cannot be parcelled up separately from the rest of living. Rather it infuses everything. It follows that the task of creating "a culture in common" and a truly creative society is a task for the whole administration. It will be a test of our capacity for ‘joined-up thinking’, across the whole range of government. The full development of our cultural potential should be an over-arching theme.


That approach should also apply to the whole of our society. It is not just a task for specifically cultural organisations. My hope, and that of every member of the Partnership Government, is that Wales as a whole will respond to this challenge so that ideas and creativity can flourish everywhere, so that specific aspirations can be fulfilled, so that everyone of us can lead a fuller, richer life, as individuals, as part of our national community and as valuable and valued contributors to the cultural diversity of our world.

Jenny Randerson, AM
Minister for Culture, Sport and the Welsh Language


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Culture is not a luxury in our lives, nor a mere embellishment to the material tasks of daily existence. It is the texture of our living. Our culture is the aggregate of our actions and aspirations, interests and passions, values and beliefs.


The task of the National Assembly, in exercising a cultural responsibility, is to ensure that, in all that it does, it enables us to enrich that texture, and in doing so that it releases the energies, talents and creative potential of individuals.


Such a wide definition can embrace every part of our living. This document is intended to be a practical strategy to help focus our activity.


Culture has an intrinsic value, but it also brings economic benefits. The flowering of individual talents as well as the success of cultural industries can raise the profile of Wales to potential investors and visitors alike. But the connection between our culture and the economic measures of our lives is much deeper than the simple statistics of how many are employed in the arts and media, or in the monetary turnover of cultural industries, important though those factors are.


A modern, culturally-rich society will be a society that is also economically prosperous, because it will have nurtured curiosity, imagination, creativity, and diversity – as well as particular skills - in its young people.. It will have valued those attributes throughout their lives, and ensured their full expression in the arts, in business, in science and in every kind of service to our society.

That imaginative commitment will also have ensured that all people - men and women, young and old, able-bodied and disabled, as well as from the diverse cultural strands of our society – have participated and shared in this enriching process. It will have opened doors to learning and new skills - artistic, technical, managerial and physical. It will have built confidence in individuals and cohesion in communities.


Such a society cannot be created by one department of government or by government alone. We must seek to extract new cultural value from all that we do – whether building a school or hospital or planning our towns and cities. Equally, we must extract the maximum economic benefit from all that we invest in cultural policy.

We must reject the false choices that so often disfigure debate and discussion – an arts centre or a stadium, a gallery or a hospital, a theatre or a school – as if a rounded society can do without any of these things, as if there were no room for theatre in a school, nor room for children in a theatre, no room for art in a hospital, nor for the sick or recovering in a gallery. As if those who shout in a crowd have never applauded in an auditorium.


We must create a new awareness of cultural opportunities and benefits, amongst the public, across government at all levels, and in all manner of public and private organisations. We must do this not as a distraction from our material problems but because culture is a crucial component of their solution. In all its variety of form and appeal culture is a prime component of both the social cohesion and the necessary internal challenge that distinguishes a healthy society.


We must treasure our distinctive culture which gives Wales its unique identity. The Welsh language is one of the most obvious features that distinguishes Wales as a nation. We shall create the climate and circumstances to ensure that the Welsh language can be strengthened and developed as a vibrant everyday means of communication. We have provided financial support to Urdd Gobaith Cymru to mount a promotional campaign in order to raise awareness of its activities and to boost membership.


Bilingualism is a jewel in our national crown. We want the living reality of bilingualism to be reflected across the range of our cultural and sporting life. We also want there to be plenty of opportunities for people to participate in the arts, sport and other cultural experiences through the medium of Welsh. We will expect all our ASPBs to reflect this in their areas of responsibility.

The Assembly has a broader commitment to supporting the Welsh language, which extends beyond the cultural sphere and beyond this Strategy, including the cross-cutting Culture Committee’s in-depth review of Welsh language policy. This strategy supports the Committee in that endeavour and the Assembly Government will set out fully its future strategy for the language in its response to the review.


The Partnership Government is, therefore, committed to

making cultural development a prime, cross-cutting theme for the National Assembly
establishing cultural development as a primary task for local government
ensuring a strong, well-funded and efficient Arts Council of Wales
the effective co-ordination of planning and activity across all cultural bodies
extracting cultural value from a wide range of public and private expenditure
These commitments are made in order to achieve the following vision:



A Vision for 2010

By 2010 Wales will be, and be known to be, a nation whose culture

is indivisible from the rest of its living
is rich, distinctive, and creative
is both diverse and shared
treasures its bilingualism as a growing reality
nurtures and cherishes imagination, innovation and excellence
nurtures imaginatively the talents of the young
enables the arts, sport and creative industries to thrive at every level
supports a creative approach to the promotion and public understanding of science
ensures a ready outlet for the creativity of us all, individuals and communities
ensures equality of access for all to participate
is the springboard for both individual fulfilment and collective prosperity


The realisation of this vision will require policy priorities that

are developed in a spirit of openness and transparency
nurture creativity and embed the arts and culture firmly in the education of our young people at all stages
aspire to and sustain the highest standards in a wide range of the professional arts
create the widest possible access to cultural activity for people of all ages and backgrounds
ensure first rate accessible facilities exist throughout Wales
make cultural development a key component of community development
extract the maximum positive value from our linguistic and cultural diversity
support the development of competitive cultural enterprises
ensure that every pound of public money invested in cultural activity is used wisely and well
use our distinct culture and its achievements to improve the international perception of Wales and to raise its profile
Responding to ideas

The purpose of a cultural strategy is to enable the fullest expression of people’s aspirations and creativity. It follows that a national strategy should be based upon meaningful consultation. Moreover, the strategy must be capable of responding to the profusion of ideas that will be generated by a truly creative society.


The document contains three kinds of proposals:



policies and projects to which the Partnership Government is already committed


proposals for the detailed investigation of particular issues and ideas designed to create a sound evidential base for policy

c) other ideas that are worthy of investigation but whose operational and financial feasibility, and degree of support, have yet to be tested. They are included here both because of their prima facie value and because they convey a sense of the scale and ambition to which we should aspire. Responses to the ideas in this third category will inform the longer term development of the strategy and its implementation.


Implementation


The National Assembly’s Minister for Culture, Sport and the Welsh Language will have overall responsibility for the implementation of the strategy set out in this document.

Individual policies will be delivered either by the National Assembly Government, or local government or a range of Assembly Sponsored Public Bodies, both cultural and economic, acting individually or in partnership. The co-ordination of these policies and associated projects will be achieved by the National Assembly Government, assisted through the cultural forum, Cymru’n Creu. (Organisations represented on Cymru’n Creu are listed in Annex A.).


There are also a number of other organisations that have a role to play in implementing the strategy, which are not always recognised for the contribution they make to the nation’s cultural development. The following list of such organisations is not exhaustive and other organisations can and will be included as the occasions arise:


National Parks Authorities


Countryside Council for Wales


The National Trust


Archaeological Trusts


Science organisations e.g. Techniquest


Voluntary Organisations


To implement this strategy successfully there will need to be high level joint working between the National Assembly and its key partners. This will require a co-ordinated approach to policy development within the National Assembly and amongst the public bodies identified as having a role in its implementation.


Action Plans

Each Policy Priority will be implemented via an action plan.
Short term changes and innovations can be introduced relatively quickly within existing budget resources.
Longer-term actions will become part of the Culture Minister’s annual remit to the relevant organisations.
The timing for implementing recommendations will be the subject of discussion at the regular meetings between the National Assembly and the organisations responsible for implementation and at meetings of Cymru’n Creu
Implementation will be subject to the resources made available under future budget planning rounds and announced by the National Assembly annually.
Each action point within the plan identifies a lead body to take forward action. Many of the action points will have more than one organisation working on their development. Cymru’n Creu will have an important co-ordinating role, but where lead bodies have been identified it will be for them to initiate discussion with other organisations they feel should be involved in delivering that part of the strategy. Although overall responsibility for ensuring that the strategy is implemented rests with the National Assembly, Cymru’n Creu will play a key role in monitoring implementation against the action plan on a regular basis.


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The full text of the paper is available at the National Assembly web site (from the link below...)

author:Culture Secretary, National Assembly for Wales

original source: National Assembly of Wales
16 November 2001

 

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