Theatre in Wales

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

More questions than answers

Bill Hamblett, co-Artistic Director of Small World Theatre, examines some of the implications of the recent decision by WAG to reduce the powers and r

The Welsh Assembly Government is now running the show, so what will the effect be on smaller companies that work across Wales? The Minister cites ?the recent Theatre Clwyd tour of Communities First areas." No mention then of the companies already working in these areas and how this work could inform the direction of their strategy. I hope the plan is not just to force the big building based companies to do hit and run raids into the areas on the index of social deprivation.

How are local authority arts officers and cultural policies to interact with the Assembly? As ACW no longer deals with strategy how will artists interact with policy makers? Possibly via the local arts officers to the Assembly or through local arts forums? This largely untried and very much untested route for exchange and debate is only just forming and its participation figures across Wales are patchy at best. Is this route for local arts activity to be abandoned in the new big picture?

The minister seems to want a global perspective to the arts. He wants ? to use the Arts as a platform for promoting Wales in the World?. We know that the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) has an international remit that is limited by Westminster to working with a small number of countries whereas culture has no limit to its exchange and influence or remit. ACW and British Council already work together as Wales Arts International (WAI) Are the WAI and WAG international polices harmonized, do they even talk? Will artistic and cultural horizons shrink as a result of the change? Community arts from Wales has been promoted with a touring exhibition in many countries. What will the follow up be to this initiative? Is there going to be a coherent international strategy. The millennium Centre cannot be the only strand to international profile.

Ironically Culture is the shapest tool in the box to use when dealing with "change" and the effects of change. It seems strange that only one song and no dance has been made in response or even in preparation to this change by policy makers or practioners. Maybe it has caught the sector by surprise while they are backstage staring in the mirror putting on the makeup anticipating their next entrance. Is this the winter of our discontent? Oh no it's not . oh yes it is.

author:Bill Hamblett

original source: Small World Theatre
13 December 2004


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