Theatre in Wales

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

Discussion paper from Ceri Sherlock, Committee's A

Part of the process of cultural review

Policy Review : Arts and Culture in Wales

Discussion paper from Ceri Sherlock, Committee's Arts and Culture Advisor



A definition of Culture:

This review favours a holistic definition of Culture - 'one which consists of all distinctive spiritual and material, intellectual and emotional features which characterise a society or group' (UNESCO) as opposed to one which equates culture to the arts.

Culture is about identity, history, diversity, education, traditions, symbols, language, innovation and shared experiences. It is a society's narrative. It is shaped by our socio-economic histories, by our natural and built environment, by our beliefs, values and aesthetics. It is about science and technology - invention and creativity. It is about communication - publishing, broadcasting - information, perception and practice. It is what has fallen to us as our heritage, what we wish to preserve, and how we create new horizons and new visions for the future. It is the process by which we acquire and share our sets of values in society and how we share and reveal them to others. It is our past and future built heritage and what we deem to be valuable to pass on. "It is society's conversation with itself overheard by others". We are both custodians and creators of our Culture. Culture is as much about 'becoming' as 'being'. This includes a broad range of activities such as sport, heritage, play, leisure, tourism, language, the worlds of our imagination, the creative industries and the Arts.

Culture frequently defined as synonymous with the Arts is inadequate and can lead to the exclusivity of the idea of culture and create barriers in achieving a creative society for the many not the few. It can also create a dislocation of the role and value of artists and the Arts in society and a confusion within those agencies whose responsibility is delivering public funding( public subsidy) to enable people to create, have access to, have careers , participate in and enjoy the rich diversity of the Arts within Culture.

Culture understood as inclusive, shared in, influenced and defined by society in every field is essential. Culture is inherited, organic, happenstance and designed. It is a complex organism. Culture is about forging an identity as much as revealing it. These are our starting points and mapping a creative Wales begins here.


The Culture of Wales...

The Culture of Wales is rich and deep in its diversity of expression. It is a performative culture where people are passionate to take part and enjoy others taking part - from sports to choirs to acting to brass bands to Eisteddfodau, mountaineering, films, water sports and rock concerts. It admires the skills of creativity, hard work, industry and innovation. It is hewn from the natural environment of Wales, its dramatic landscape, its education system and unique social and industrial history. Wales excels in the literary arts, in its visual culture,

in its music making, its built heritage , its national institutions, its actors and its sporting achievements. ( Wales has artists of influence and international stature in all these fields ). Wales is defined by its ancient language, its modern diversity of peoples and its social compassion, but above all, by its passion for creativity. The Culture of Wales is in the process of re-shaping itself, of re-defining itself, perhaps even, of re-inventing itself for the challenging of the new century and in reaction to the new political situation in which it finds itself.

This review is a contribution to and an accelerator of that on-going process.


Cultural Consortium - Creu Cymru

To underpin this view of Culture and its cross cutting nature, the Public Sponsored Bodies answerable to the National Assembly in this field, should form a Cultural Consortium to deliver Assembly Policy on Culture, the Arts and the Creative Industries. It will be chaired by Assembly Secretary with a portfolio for Culture, have its own secretariat staff, financed by a levy on each of the public bodies, have its own directorate and be answerable to the appropriate National Assembly Committee. - There shall also be representatives from other agencies for delivery of Assembly Policy, such as, the Local Government Association and the Economic Development Agency for Wales (WDA).

It will be the forum for 'joined up' implementation of policy and its monitoring. It will be required to think and act strategically, stimulate connectivity, set standards of good practice, require best value; and commission research and development initiatives to target investment and ensure future growth. It will inform the policy of the Government of Wales and will be the appropriate advocate of International Cultural Exchange. It will also form a strong conduit between the government of Wales and the monitoring, accountability and transparency of its Sponsored Public Bodies in the Cultural Sector. It will advise the National Assembly on Cultural Policy, be an advocate for the sector, an engine to drive it to achieve its potential - both human and economic - through innovation, creativity and imagination.


The Cultural Consortium will include the Assembly Sponsored Public Bodies -Arts Council of Wales (or its successor body); the Council Of Museums; the National Museum and Galleries of Wales; the National Library of Wales; the Sports Council; Bwrdd Croeso; Bwrdd yr Iaith; (Millennium Centre for Wales?); Royal Commission for Ancient and Historical Monuments; Cadw.

It will also include representation from the Local Government Association (WLGA) from the Economic Development Agency for Wales (WDA) and, importantly, from the Broadcast Sector ( Sgrin, TAC, ITC, Broadcasting Council for Wales???).

The Cultural Consortium will be Chaired by Assembly Secretary for Culture, assisted by an Assembly appointed Dirprwy, and answerable to the appropriate Committee.

It will be staffed by a Chief Executive, a strategic research and development team, a small clerical staff with expert skills in communication and cultural issues and will have the capacity to commission expert advice and research in specific areas. The Cultural Consortium - Creu Cymru will be a pro-active agency for Cultural stimulation, for maximising the economic impact of the Creative Industries, for best practice comparators and the co-ordinating mechanism for Cultural Sector in European Funding Initiatives.

"Culture: an economic growth point: Culture is closely linked to tourism as the cultural heritage of a region not only contributes to the development of a local or regional identity but also attracts tourists. Culture thus offers opportunities for additional employment, a factor of major importance to the disadvantaged regions of the Community with a high concentration of cultural potential ... The Cultural Potential of a region will render it more attractive to outside investors in general. Culture is also an increasingly important part of the private economy in its own right, with considerable potential for growth and job creation Member States should thus make more use of the employment potential of innovative and

creative cultural products …Finally, flexible training linked to culture-related professions is both a requirement for the functioning of the cultural sectors and contributes to the preservation or modernisation of traditional activities and the establishment of entirely new skills, linked for example to the information society." (Draft Guidance for Programmes 2000 2006 tabled by Mrs. Wulf-Mathies in agreement with Mr. Flynn, Mr. Fischler and Mrs. Bonino.)


The Cultural Consortium- Creu Cymru will have immediate responsibility for :

*the creation of a Cultural Industries Development Group (CIDG):the Creative Industries have a major impact on the economy and culture of Wales but there is little up to date data in a developing area with strong economic growth potential. Creativity and innovation are central to competitiveness and are a clear commercial imperative.

to define the sector ( see note 1.3.3 below)
acquire relevant and up to date data

to identify areas of weakness and immediate investment

to co-ordinate and accelerate the input of the Creative Industries in
Objective 1 and ERDF initiatives
* the development and strengthening of Wales Arts International into a strategic department within the Consortium with a wider cultural and economic remit.

to develop and promote the sector in home and export markets

to provide technical assistance to expanding and developing SME's in the sector

to develop people, artists and organizations as cultural ambassadors

to provide a strategic infrastructure

to be proactive in seeking cultural opportunities

to take the best of Wales to the world and bring the best of the world
to Wales fostering a rich and beneficial cultural exchange both creatively and economically.
*the creation of an Information Communication Technology Task Force

(ICCTF) for the Cultural Sector

to create a strategy to tackle Wales' ICT deficit in the Cultural Sector

to identify specific areas of investment
to interface with other new technology initiatives

to disseminate good practice in the Cultural Sector in relation to information, data exchange, marketing, archiving, education, innovation and creativity
to stimulate connectivity between ICT and Education particularly in relation to lifelong learning, skills acquisition and professional entry points

to create a strategic initiative in relation to ICT and social exclusion

to be an active interface of initiative and information between the Broadcast and New Media Industries and the public sector

to be a proactive partner in the opportunities afforded by Objective 1 and ERDF in relation to the convergence of the new technologies - broadcast and telephony.

to investigate a digital network for the creative industries in the South and North
*The identification of overlap and duplication of activities in the Cultural

Sector. The implementation of better value principles in relation to the

ASPB's. Examples of specific areas of immediate concern ....

Museum and Art Galleries' Education and Outreach Policies

Heritage Institutions as active partners in Cultural initiatives

Assessing the demographics of Cultural provision - in relation to tackling social exclusion, cultural diversity and equal opportunities

Assessing the geographic spread of provision

The Publishing Sector - literature, e technology and e commerce

The Regulation of Broadcast in the light of 'convergence'
Artists and the Arts in relation to Objective 1 and ERDF initiatives
*to be pro-active in relation to developing synergies between the Cultural

Sector and other business sectors ( Arts and Business as one partner )

*to improve access to investment and venture capital

*to help build stronger infrastructures in the sector and to target specific help to SMEs

develop industry specific business support

strengthen umbrella and facilitator organisations

to provide technical assistance
*to develop the skills, training opportunities and experience of the Cultural

Sector, together with the Consortium's partners, in all aspects of education and


identify deficit

create training initiatives and education initiatives.

devise 'in service' training schemes to refresh workforce
to accelerate and implement initiatives in Cultural Tourism particularly the discussion document presented to Committee by Bwrdd Croeso

to facilitate connectivity

to co-ordinate joint activities

to reactivate the 'branding' initiative in the Cultural sector
*to represent, advocate and co-ordinate the Cultural Industries in regeneration projects. Culture is frequently a key motor in regeneration often providing the critical mass of creative activity as key to development initiatives. They are a catalyst in development activities, and provide significant secondary economic impacts on local economies. To co-ordinate the Cultural Industries impact on social inclusion.

to ensure that the Cultural Industries are acknowledged on a national and local level are identified as an essential component of any regeneration scheme.

to initiate research and development of the impact of the Cultural Industries in regeneration programmes.
*to stimulate a deeper understanding of Culture and its role in society

to stimulate critical debate and discussion

to encourage better and a more informed debate in the media

to actively stimulate a critical discourse on culture and creativity at a deeper level

to inform and educate about Cultural matters

to conduct research

to liaise with HE institutions in research and development
*to act as arbitrator ( or Ombudsman ) on behalf of the National Assembly

in Cultural matters should the occasion arise

*to act strategically with the Lottery Distributors on behalf of the National Assembly

*to ensure open access, accountability and transparency in Publicly subsidised Cultural sector


A definition of the Creative Industries ... a starting point -

" Those activities which have their origin in human creativity, skill and talent, and which have their potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property. These have been taken to include the following key sectors: advertising, architecture; the art and antiques market; crafts; design; designer fashion; film; interactive leisure software; music; the performing arts; publishing; software and television and radio"

( Department of Culture. Media and Sport (DCMS) Creative Industries Task Force )


What constitutes a Creative Industry ....

The DCMS Creative Industries Task Force offers the following lexicon of Industries to be considered:

Advertising; Architecture; Design; Art and Antiques; Computer Games; Crafts; Design; Designer Fashion; Film; Music; Performing Arts; Publishing; Software; Television and Radio

They might be categorised in a Welsh context as follows :

Live - Music, Performing arts, sports and recreation

Media - Film Interactive leisure software, new technology, broadcast/ publishing, television and radio.

Design and Visual - Architecture, Crafts, Design, Designer fashion, Public Art and other Visual arts

Heritage - Arts and antiques market, heritage, museums and galleries


The Creative Industries and their importance to the cultural health and the economy of Wales.

The Creative Industries play an important role in the well being and economy of Wales. They make a substantial contribution to the country's wealth, competing in local, national and international markets with experience, skills and innovation and by providing essential and high value services in the broadcast, technology, entertainment, education, tourism and leisure sectors. The Creative Industries are central to Wales' cultural capital potential. They are a growth area of employment and are vital to Wales' growing reputation as a centre for passionate creativity and a rooted, rich and diverse Culture.

Creative skills are greatly in demand in all parts of the economy. Creative industry and enterprise is an essential component of the quality of life in Wales, to people who live and work in Wales, to visitors, inward investors and to the style and design of the working environment.

It is important to stimulate, develop, attract and sustain this concentration of skills, information, infrastructure and market opportunities to allow Wales' creative community to compete successfully in highly competitive new and mature global markets.

Much of this success is generated by a large number of individuals and very small companies, (SME's ) for whom access to workspace, specialised advice and finance is essential. This is a mixed economy sector where financial partnership and government intervention is both appropriate and essential.

Government has provided a strong lead in advocating the importance of the Creative Industries regionally, nationally, within the British Isles and internationally. It has asked each nation and region to provide an assessment of the Creative Industries. It is imperative that this work is activated by the government of Wales. A few groups have made small inroads into the sector but an active task force for Wales is more than overdue, particularly in the teeth of the opportunities afforded by European Community Funds and the pivotal importance of the Cultural Sector in realising Better Wales.

In partnership, with the public and private sectors, the Creative Industries have the potential of defining Wales, and its regions, as creative country noted for the excellence of its innovation, imagination and passionate creativity, for contributing significantly to its rich quality of life, economy and GDP.


Data available...

"In Wales, the arts and Cultural Industries provide employment for around 29,000 people or 2.6% of the working population. The total expenditure of arts and cultural organisations and businesses is 836 million of which 576 million is spent in Wales. The industry has a turnover of 1.1 billion and adds an annual contribution of 314 million to the Welsh GDP.

The research suggests that the sector has the potential to grow significantly but that there is a need for interventions to facilitate that growth."

( DCA/WERU/ACW/WDA and S4C The Economic Impact of the Arts and Cultural Industries in Wales 1998)


The Creative Industries Development Group ...

This group which straddles the needs and interests of Government, Public Subsidy and the Private Business Sector should be appropriately located in a new strategic task force. It should form a sub-group of the Cultural Consortium - Creu Cymru and be financed separately. It should not be a strategic arm of the Arts Council of Wales , which neither has the ability, expertise, nor appropriate strategic acumen, to become an active accelerator in this sector.

Ceri Sherlock June 2000

author:Ceri Sherlock

original source: National Assembly for Wales
28 June 2000


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