Theatre in Wales

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Does Wales need its dramatists? Perhaps this is the week where that question will be answered.

On Wednesday December 3rd, The Culture Committee of The Welsh Assembly Government will be continuing its policy review of English-medium Welsh writing. Organisations such as The Arts Council of Wales, Sgript Cymru, BBC Wales and The Writers Guild of Great Britain will be making presentations focussing on the key issues facing dramatic writing across a range of media in Wales.

Opportunity is widely believed to be at its lowest ebb in Wales and many writers and theatre companies are deeply frustrated at the lack of progress that has been endemic in theatre for the best part of a decade, if not longer. As a consequence, fifty-four playwrights – both emerging and established – have supported a document called State of Play calling on The Welsh Assembly Government and The Arts Council of Wales to take immediate action to cultivate the work of playwrights in Wales and to give them a platform for their work to flourish.
At the heart of State of Play is a demand for more money to be directed towards the production of new plays, which is particularly necessary in the English language. Unfortunately, The Arts Council of Wales itself foresees little opportunity for increased investment without further commitment from The Welsh Assembly Government, which itself made a manifesto pledge to increase the funding for Culture by 60% in the life of this government: “Significant progress on this front will not be achieved without investment on a significant scale. The proposed funding for arts outside Cardiff can play some part, but will not of itself prove sufficient.” (From The Arts Council of Wales’ response to English Language Writing in Wales.)
On Friday December 5th, the week culminates with a conference hosted by The Wales Association For The Performing Arts at Chapter in Cardiff where the topic will be The Future of English Language Theatre and where playwrights in Wales will be calling for their work to be central to any future national strategy. Speakers will include Peter Doran (Torch Theatre), Roger Williams (playwright) and Joyce MacMillan (Theatre critic for The Scotsman)

In his seminal report on theatre for The Arts Council of England in 2001, professional arts consultant, Peter Boyden wrote that, "Across the creative industries new writing is the key to investment and productivity. It is the primary process through which ideas are ordered as the basis for performance" As a consequence of his research, his recommendations included, "Encouraging new writing, new plays and new work as central to the health of theatre and to the wider creative industries". This report, which brought an additional £25million over three years into theatre in England, is now coming to pass as theatre around the English regions reinvents itself and new audiences flock to see the result. The imagination of this policy contrasts sharply with the position in Wales.

Sgript Cymru  
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Simon Harris
Wednesday, December 03, 2003back



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