Theatre in Wales

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

Theatre Gwynedd''s submission to the Post 16 Educa

A Review of the Arts and Culture Policy: Theatre Gwynedd Paper

A Review of the Arts - Questions to the Arts Community

1. Acknowledge that Wales has a culture in two languages and to ensure parity, the Assembly's policy should reflect this by acknowledging it and ensuring that events in the two languages are treated equally, including the funding policy. In addition, the Assembly should ensure that the Welsh Arts Council is an accountable and open body and its activities should be monitored regularly by an objective panel.

2. The main principle of the arts policy should be to facilitate and promote the arts for as many people in Wales as possible within the available resources. The match between quality and popularity is very often uneasy but a constant effort should be made to attain both. Investment in practitioners is necessary to secure a brighter future for the arts in Wales.

3. A policy principle should acknowledge that inherent Welsh art exists, but that there is also a Welsh form of every type of art, and the policy should reflect support for all arts in Wales. By supporting the Arts in Wales, Welsh Art is also supported.

4. With a clean slate, the structure should reflect and support the aim and strategy of the Arts and Culture Policy. The aim and strategy should be agreed upon before the structure is created.

The main elements of arts funding, management and development in Wales should include:

a means of securing sufficient funding for every section of the arts
a continuous means of reviewing and monitoring activities and administration.
5. From my experience the Welsh Arts Council has been open and accessible when listening to our opinion in relation to the drama strategy. Some elements of the process could have been more open and the Council therefore would not be so vulnerable to criticism.

6. The Welsh Arts Council's structure and organisation could be appropriate for the development of national arts strategies and the management of the Assembly's funding, as long as they are open and balanced in their discussions, decisions and assessments with clients. A much more artistic attitude needs to be adopted towards clients rather than the continual emphasis on figures and statistics. This is not the way to assess success.

7. The arts have not been sufficiently supported across every region in Wales, especially when promoting the Welsh language e.g. the Welsh Arts Council's funding policy should encourage theatres and centres to employ bilingual marketing staff i.e. fluent Welsh speakers. In doing so, there would at least be some opportunities to sell Welsh productions. The degree of travelling expected of the Welsh powerhouse to compensate for the decrease in work by other companies, will be unreasonably high without improved funding. There is a danger that the more rural communities will suffer.

8. We agree with the principle of 'funding fewer for better' in the current economic climate since there is no other choice. In the current system everyone suffers. But where is the effort to campaign for more money as in Scotland and England? And by improving funding for the fewer, it's necessary to ensure that the fewer offer the variety of work which existed when there were more.

9. The Welsh Arts Council should distribute European funds for the arts since this is the body with the expertise to assess and review projects. But they should be accountable to an objective panel (and to the Assembly eventually).

10. Welsh International Arts can promote Wales' creative industries overseas by emphasising the variety of arts taking place in Wales, and certainly emphasising the unique bilingual situation. But when the cultural produce is good enough, and it can be with sustainable investment, it is self promoting on the basis of quality and standard.

11. The arts can contribute to tackling social exclusion by extending and continuing community arts projects, providing opportunities for less prosperous people to attend professional performances and through the enthusiastic support of the use of arts in education, especially Theatre in Education. The arts can also be a creative forum to celebrate and understand our communities in the twenty first century. This can be done by developing relevant works, tragic or comedy. The main obstacle at present is market forces which forces practitioners and managers to play safe and to continuously compromise.

12. The Assembly can maintain and increase the viability and income of the arts industries in Wales by making arts funding a statutory part of the commitment of local authorities, securing support to those training for a career in the arts and securing long term support to established bodies such as theatres and Theatre in Education companies and community dance projects for example. The concept that the arts is a luxury must be changed. They are a necessity in our lives - a source of education, entertainment and research into our inheritance and identity as a people.

author:Theatr Gwynedd

original source:
30 March 2000


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