Theatre in Wales

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

Two Tier arts funding?

An arts professional expresses concern over the future of arts funding in Wales

Am I alone in thinking that moves by Assembly Ministers to award direct funding to particular Arts initiatives in Wales are not necessarily a good thing for the majority of people working in the Arts in this country, nor for that matter people living here?

I'm not suggesting that these decisions have been made with anything but the best of intentions, but from direct experience I am painfully aware that many of the good people charged with responsibility for disseminating public funds to the creative industries have little or no direct experience in the fields they are being paid to support. I also appreciate that this is 'new' money for the Arts and seems to be ring-fenced for those initiatives that ministers have been led to believe will stand Wales' Arts in good stead on the international scene.

My guess is that those 'initiatives' can already afford enough people to do the lobbying and attend the odd power-breakfast in Cardiff. However, having worked in the Arts in Wales for some time now, I have been conditioned to accept thorough audits, consultation processes and the like, before any new Arts initiative is green-lit. Reasonable enough given it's our money they're playing with, but this is not the case when it comes to our elected representatives at government level apparently.

Is this a case of 'she who pays the piper'?

I like to think that as artists and arts workers in Wales can look to our Arts Council as 'partners' in the business of providing an arts and cultural service for the people of Wales. As such I would like to urge our Arts Council to challenge, on our behalf, the actions of individual ministers who are making ill-informed decisions that may adversely affect the prosperity of the Arts in Wales, and bring the viability of a recently-restructured Arts Council into question. Is our Arts Council going to publicly challenge the Minister for Culture's actions?

Or does it in fact support it? If the Arts Council is going to let this new Assembly-led arts funding strategy go ahead without publicly raising what must surely be justifiable concerns, then can someone please tell me who at the Assembly I have to have a few drinks with in order to get an arts grant?

author:Theatre in Wales editorial

original source: Theatre in Wales web site
07 May 2002


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