Theatre in Wales

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

A Kick up the Arts

More than one hundred and twenty professionals from all over Wales gathered to discuss the state of the performing arts and look to the future.

More than one hundred and twenty professionals from all over Wales gathered to discuss the state of the performing arts and look to the future. Statistics produced for the day demonstrated the sharp decline of recent years in the production and presentation of live arts. Productions have also grown smaller with fewer actors, dancers and musicians employed.

The conference deliberately took up the challenge of that decline and saw it as an opportunity for growth. The overwhelming theme of the day’s discussions was that Wales has a great deal of underused creative capacity, which is ready to be developed and used to the full.

In five areas the conference identified practical measures and policies which could begin transforming our creative prospects in the next five years. This spirit coincided with the Culture Minister Jenny Randerson’s call on the day for a “new creative transformation.”

The conference heard from Peter Tyndall of the Arts Council about the need to move away from managing decline and about ACW’s commitment to new ways of working. Journalist Paul Allen talked of the difficulty Wales faced in both perception and reality. David Clarke spoke of the alternative models and new ways of thinking that can show the way ahead.

This was the first time the main performing arts associations in Wales have worked together with a joint agenda. Our conclusion is that we will continue to co-operate in developing a national performing arts agenda for Wales and will set targets for public policy makers through that agenda. Over time we will identify common issues with other arts sectors and broaden the debate and co-operation to include representative associations from other art forms. Future meetings are already being planned to continue the performing arts agenda at a more specialised level at the same time as discussions are underway with representatives of other sectors.

There is at this moment a spirit of optimism in Wales. The Assembly is proposing more funding for the arts, which will begin to create a level playing field with England. The Arts Council is looking afresh at its policies.

We would like to thank everyone who supported the conference but more particularly everyone who attended, spoke, listened and made it such a significant landmark event.


Working Group Reports

Reasonable and achievable advances for the arts in Wales by 2006

·Grant income restored in real terms to 1995 values for all existing Arts Council clients.
·Rolling three-year funding contracts to improve financial planning and business and artistic confidence.
·Investment in generic marketing and PR to raise the profile of Welsh arts worldwide.
·Long term benefits to the arts throughout Wales must flow from Cardiff’s bid to be European City of Culture 2008.
·Wales to play a full part in cross-border touring of all the performing arts, to and from the rest of the UK.
·Substantially increased support for individual artists.

Cross Art Forms
This R and D sector of the arts will become more important as we move through the next decade. Greater emphasis on creative development (ideas rather than product) will be demanded by all sections of society and the arts must meet this challenge.

·A horizontal approach to funding across the art forms - as well as the existing traditional pattern of funding by individual art form.
·More outlets for the work of independent artists and access to reasonable resources.
·More assistance in the form of bursaries and apprenticeships for individual creative development.

·Dance should no longer be the poor relation of Welsh arts.
·New policies and resources to promote the importance of dance as an art form.
·Audiences and artists given access to top quality work from across the world.
·Funding available for promoters to see a wide range of work and form links with dance companies worldwide.
·Welsh dance to become more relevant to its potential audience.
·Comprehensive training and professional development opportunities established.
·Greater emphasis on the fun and physical enjoyment of dance.

·A new drama strategy established which is coherent and inclusive, with achievable goals, relevant to and part of modern communities.
·Investment rededicated to past successes - in particular the TIE and YPT companies of Wales.
·Audiences developed through investment in production and marketing.

·Wales to emulate the “joined up” culture of the Scandinavian countries where there are developed links between the amateur, the professional, the producer, the venue and the world of education.
·Wales’ folk traditions particularly in song and dance developed and the opportunities of cultural tourism exploited.
·A Chamber Orchestra of Wales with venues throughout Wales established by 2006.
·Increased support for living composers with opportunities for performances of their work.
·Increased resources for musical theatre productions, as a showcase for the many talented and successful Welsh performers and musicians in this field.

·A level playing field of funding between venues and companies established.
·Greater co-operation and artistic collaboration between venues and companies established.
·A financial climate established which allows greater long term planning for touring venues and touring productions.

author:Gemma Allen

original source: WAPA, PAG, TMA, GALW
22 November 2001


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