Theatre in Wales

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

Theatr Clwyd's response to the Post 16 Education C

Arts Review - Questions to the Arts Community

1. Other than providing additional funding, what do you feel the Assembly can/should offer the arts in Wales and how could the Assembly develop its own definitive Arts and Cultural Policy?

Other than providing additional funding...

The Boyden Report recently prepared for the Arts Council of England analyses both historic funding patterns and the reasons for today's decline in English Regional theatres and in theatre going. The message is unequivocably a lack of funding, together with over-management - largely unqualified, and over-burdening with additional 'social' responsibilities - largely unsupported.

Under-funding stifles creativity, exhausts practitioners, and disappoints audiences. Ten years ago across Britain 13 million theatre tickets were sold. Today the figure is 9 million.

The situation in Wales is worse.

What do you feel the Assembly can/should offer the arts in Wales?

dignity
a reduction in party and parochial politics
a united nation within a united kingdom
How could the assembly develop its own definitive Arts and Cultural policy?

by appointing an Arts Secretary with no other duties
by supporting proven talent to the point where a valid policy might emerge
by following the example of Aneurin Bevan. He acknowledged the primacy of Education and Health but also recommended a 6d rate for the Arts. Subsequently his wife, Jennie Lee, presided over the first Arts enablement policy for Britain.

2. What should be the principle objectives of an arts and cultural policy for Wales?

to make quality arts available to all on a daily basis
to bring the best to the most
to encourage 'proposition' arts in Wales to balance the present opposition culture

3. Should the priority of such a policy be based upon the arts in Wales or on Welsh Arts? What should the balance be between the two?

Is there such a thing as French arts, - German arts, - Welsh arts? Aspiration as expressed through culture tends to the universal. Talent is born not made.

The priority should be the public. What they want, need - whatever serves them best.

In Paris when a new structure was required in the forecourt of the Louvre a search was conducted world-wide for an appropriate artist/architect. They chose a Japanese-American. He created the now famous glass pyramid, visited and enjoyed by millions of tourists each year and by the French themselves. To them it is 'theirs', a modern complement to older buildings, another French triumph.

It is difficult to imagine a similar scenario in Wales.


4. Given a "clean sheet", how would you suggest the Assembly structures its funding and management/development of the arts in Wales?

Given a clean sheet

1. Remove the arts from all its apologies e.g. education, sport, leisure, politics, social-engineering.

2. Create an arts department with its own secretary, within the office of the Ist Ssecretary. The arts reflect, sometimes embody, the aspiration, identity and profile of a nation.

3. Allow the arts secretary to appoint his/her own advisors and effectively replace the present Chairman and Council of ACW

4. Directly fund the flagships

5. Maintain a slimmed down officer level ACW to distribute funding

6. If none of this is possible then place the Arts with Highways or Agriculture. There would be less confusion.


5 In your experience, how open and accessible do you feel the Arts Council of Wales is and have they been prepared to listen to your views and take on board your ideas? Using the Drama Strategy as an example, do you feel the consultation was well managed or were there things which could have been done differently?

We have experience of two Arts Councils - that led by Sir Richard Lloyd-Jones and Emyr Jenkins and that led by Sybil Crouch and Joanna Weston.

The former was more concerned with listening, the latter with implementation.

We have always supported the vision of the Drama Strategy and have only ever - and rarely - questioned the manner of its implementation. In retrospect it might have been wiser to have maintained the previous administration until the vision, of which it was the architect, were fully realised.


6. Do you feel the Council 's structure and organisation is appropriate to enable it to develop national arts strategies and to manage the distribution of Assembly funding?

The Council's structure at officer level is appropriate to manage the distribution of Assembly funding. It is not appropriate to develop national arts strategies.


7. In your view, how well have the arts been supported across all regions of Wales, particularly in promoting the medium of the Welsh language?

As well as could be expected given the levels of funding available. The ACW strategy for a flagship in Gwynedd is a major and positive step.


8. Do you agree with the principle of 'funding fewer better" i.e. concentrating resources on a lesser number of organisations with a view to significantly improving the quality of productions?

Yes


9. Which body/bodies should play a key role in the management and distribution of European funding for the arts?

The Arts Secretary together with Wales Arts International and Wales European Centre should decide strategy - The Arts Council of Wales could carry it out.


10. What more can Wales Arts International, or others, do in promoting Wales ' creative industries abroad?

Very little - without further investment both in the product and in its presentation. Ideally they might avoid the 'celtic fringe' and target the main stream.


11. How do you feel the arts can contribute to tackling social exclusion in Wales and what barriers presently exist which hinder progress?

There is little the Arts can do to compensate for educational or economic deprivation Even accessibility is not really enough. To derive maximum benefit from the arts requires some education. The more you put in, the more you get out. And willingness is everything. Barriers to 'willingness' are as much psychological as economic.

The Thatcher years effectively replaced the class-system with a caste-system. The former could be combated, the latter has become a quasi-religious life-condition. If you're born a Brahmin you go to the opera. If you're an untouchable - it's the panto. Any long term solution has to be educational.

Accessibility is easier to tackle. The whole principle of subsidy is to provide a reasonably priced ticket. Increased subsidy benefits the public. Here at CTC we have a row of 5 tickets for all performances in the Main House, an under 30s pay-what-you-can-night for each production, and a 'Teen-ticket' for all except the Christmas show. Any teenager - 13 to l9 - can buy any ticket on the day of performance for 1. The schemes are effective but costly. We also tour our Mobile Theatre to deprived areas - Connah's Quay for instance - with equivalent reductions.


12. What support should the Assembly be providing to sustain or increase the viability and income of the creative industries in Wales?

Increased investment.

In terms of government funding and support of the arts, rank the themes in order of priority, where "1 " is the highest priority and "6" is the lowest priority.



Theme Rank
The development of excellence
Promoting artistic talent throughout Wales
Improving the quality of life for individuals and communities
Reinforcing the national identity and international status of Wales
The importance of the creative industries to employment in Wales
Supporting education 1
2
3
4
5
6


How relevant do you feel the terms of reference are to assessing the arts in Wales?

Very - although, as with the questions, there is a concentration upon methodology administration, management, distribution. Which is a little like designing a container before deciding the content. More research might be undertaken on the effect of the Arts, the process, perhaps even the purpose. It may defy analysis, but some have tried:

(i) "The proper study of mankind is man
The glory, jest and riddle of the world."

Pope.

(ii) "to hold, as t'were, the mirror up to nature;
to show virtue her own feature, scorn her
own image, and the very age and body of
the time his form and pressure."

Shakespeare

(iii) "An intelligent theatre, well orientated in
all its branches, can change the sensibility of
a people within a few years; a disintegrated
theatre, with clumsy hooves instead of wings,
can cheapen and lull into sleep an entire nation."

Lorca


How does the arts and, in particular your work contribute to the above themes?



Clwyd Theatr Cymru 98/99

Audience:

1. CTC. Productions -
Incoming Professional -


76,705
20,135

Total - 96,840

2. TIE/YPT Performances -
Workshops, Summer Schools, Courses etc,


16,388
12.372

Total - 28.760

3. Amateur/Community (performances & participation) Total - 22.573
4. Cinema Total - 14,929
Grand total over all CTC. activity 163,102



We also have three art galleries - professional, community and schools - monthly poetry programmes, year round concerts and occasional visits from dance companies. In 98/99 we provided 738 actor weeks of employment for a predominantly Welsh Company, and spent over 3million in Wales. In 98 we won the Barclays/TMA Award for Theatre of the Year, and in 99 were designated a Welsh National Performing Arts Company.


What changes need to be introduced to encourage the further development of these themes?

Increased investment.

Grant in Aid - needs a further 1m per annum.
The Lottery - since its inception the Lottery has committed nearly 84 million to the Arts. Of that 80% has gone to Capital projects and overall 45% has gone to non-professional projects and activities. A rebalance of capital to revenue, of amateur to professional could revitalise music, dance, drama, painting and poetry throughout Wales.
N.E.S.T.A - has money but, as yet, no clear direction for its funds
Education - if the arts are a branch of Education viz "to support Education" - should they not be funded by Education?
Council Tax - Aneurin Bevan’s 6d rate. Even 1d would help.

author:Theatr Clwyd

original source: National Assembly for Wales
30 March 2000

 

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