Theatre in Wales

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Report That Says Nothing of Weight

Arts Policy Report

Culture, Welsh Language & Communication Committee , Diversifying Funding Inquiry , March-02-19
Arts Policy Report by Culture, Welsh Language & Communication Committee The Aeron Valley is known for its poetic connections, a place of significance for both Dylan Thomas and T S Eliot. It is also an area, by dint of its closeness to Lampeter, thick with theologians and philosophers. I was an occasional drinking companion in the last century with a translator and leading commentator of Heidegger. Philosophy and theology are the most practical of disciplines. Detective Inspector Hathaway, Lewis' colleague, is a theology graduate. Philosophical uncertainty suffuses the theatre of Michael Frayn. Siôn Eirian is on record as to the value for a writer of his philosophy studies in Aberystwyth.

The planet has a myriad systems of communication. That of humans has one feature that marks it out. To fit social systems of great complexity our languages uniquely can both reveal and conceal. It is crucial to us as a species that we are able to lie. The lie is the crux of theatre. Language is socially located, always situated within context. As a situational construct some statement is made to conserve a situation and some statement is made as action. Its purpose is to impact upon a social relationship and open up possibilities for change.

The request from the Minister came from a position that asked for a language of action. The Committee delivered a language of conservation.

This is despite the acknowledgement that “On average, Wales’ arts organisations have a higher public funding subsidy than those in England.”

Instead there is language such as:

“The Welsh Government should continue to provide financial support, whether through Arts and Business Cymru or otherwise, to promote and develop partnership working between business and the arts to help maximise financial support for the arts from business. The Welsh Government should also consider how the specific difficulties faced by the arts sector in Wales in attracting funding from businesses can be addressed, and whether additional public investment in this area is needed to drive this work forward.”

This says nothing. There is nothing the Minister can get hold of to actually do. Similarly:

“Recommendation 5. The Welsh Government should commission research in order to identify and exploit international markets that have growth potential for Welsh arts organisations.”

Research from whom to do what? The reception of any artwork is uncertain. Money is far better spent judiciously and rigorously on the supply side than the demand side.

The report comes weighted with verbal ballast. Thus:

“The difficulties faced by those within the arts sector when attempting to raise revenue are wide ranging. Scale and location are key factors in enabling the generation of non-public funding. The potential to raise commercial revenue, to secure funding from businesses and to successfully bid for grants is harder the smaller the organisation, and the further it is away from a metropolitan centre of population. Such difficulties serve to underline the value of the public funding provided to arts organisations, funding which has reduced greatly over the last decade.”

“However, as challenging as the revenue raising difficulties are within the sector, they do not mean that arts organisations should not explore every opportunity to generate non-public income, and be supported in these efforts by the Arts Council, the Welsh Government and local authorities.”

This are words without impact. The first 21 words of the last paragraph are verbal porridge and worth neither the writing nor the reading.

This inquiry was one of importance. There are five principal reasons as to why it emerged in the way that it did.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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