Theatre in Wales

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They tried it a third time and we’ve done it again.”

A Political Diary

Media and Commentators , Politics of Wales , March 23, 2019
A Political Diary by Media and Commentators Winter is officially over. Politics come my way, daily by way of screens big and small, and occasionally in personal encounter. Although an arts site is not obvious the two are intermingled. I keep a diary of things I find interesting.

6th September: At Rhosygilwen Mansion, near Cilgerran, to hear a three-person panel on the topic of Wales and its representatives. “Who Speaks for Wales?” is the title. The three between them have around a century's worth of public service between them.

The names flow: Raymond Williams, John Tripp, Harri Webb. The discussion inevitably tilts towards Europe. The 40 MP’s of Wales, it is said, should act in the national interest and not be suborned by the whips following short-term party advantage. It is more easily said from the outside.

The facts are repeated. The Gross Value Added per person in Wales is £19,000. In Scotland it is £25,000. That Free Trade Agreement with New Zealand will rip £270 million out of the GDP of Wales.

Over the course of the discussion the word “immigration” is unmentioned. It is all polite and reasoned. At the end a new voice from the back row speaks:

“I don’t get this at all. They tried it in 1914 and we beat them. They tried again in 1939 and we beat them again. They tried it a third time and we’ve done it again.”

16th October 2018: Ifan Morgan Jones writing about on the tourist board's projection of Wales.

“So, why is Wales’ culture mostly invisible in these adverts? It is partly, I think, a hangover from history. The portrayal of a romantic ‘Wild Wales’, untouched by civilization, goes back to at least the 19th century. Unconsciously or not, we are perhaps portraying Wales in a way we think tourists imagine us to be.

“But I think there’s also an underlying cultural cringe – a feeling that our culture is substandard, and at best would just scare people off rather than attract them.

“Wales’ most attractive spots for tourists are also some of those where the Welsh language is still a community language And we wouldn’t want that to make people feel unwelcome! But these adverts should have a role in changing perceptions, not just pandering to them. I’ve spoken before of how Scotland can teach us a thing or two about selling our own culture and history. As a starting point, self-confidence is key.

30th November BBC Wales “the Carwyn Years”: Half the scant 30 minutes is wasted on a string of past headlines. Laura Macallister is the most critical voice: “managerial, deficient in strategic vision, one never really deciphered what he was about.”

Martin Shipton: “a nationalist-light voice deployed at elections.”

January 10th Nation Cymru: Adam Price “If you don’t have a seat at the table you’re probably on the menu.”

January 26th 2019: Gareth Leaman closes a TV review for Wales Arts Review: “Ironically this is, in many ways, actually a perfect summation of ‘official Welsh culture’ at present: no real representation of ourselves on screen; a superficial idealisation of the natural landscape; exploitation of crumbling socio-political structures. Wales as a hyper-real netherworld in which decaying infrastructure can only be used as props to tell other people’s stories.”

February 14th: Western Mail, Ruth Mosalski: “The deal the Welsh Government signed to bring Pinewood Studios to Wales was blighted by a catalogue of errors. It lacked detail, ignored potential conflicts of interest, and saw the Government spend £6m on a building which had a leaking roof without even carrying out a structural survey, according to a new report.

“The Welsh Government spent £6.3m buying, and another £3.1m fitting out the former Energy Centre site at Wentloog, near Cardiff, to develop as a film and TV studio in collaboration with Pinewood Shepperton Limited in 2014.

“The Welsh Government had entered into a contract described by the committee as "lacking clarity" in terms of how it would operate. The Assembly's public accounts committee, which has assessed the Welsh Government's dealings with Pinewood, has said there was "inaccurate, incomplete and poor quality advice provided to Welsh Ministers on a number of occasions".

“The Welsh Government was to pay Pinewood £438,000 annually for five years to market and promote the studio and the media investment budget. However, shortly after the contract was signed, officials realised that VAT had been left out of the original sponsorship agreement.
It meant approval had to be given to increase the annual sponsorship by £87,600 to £525,600.

“The committee said: "It is difficult to comprehend how the VAT implications could not have been understood if specialist advice was received. The £87,600 of VAT could not be reclaimed and is an additional cost to the Welsh Government.”

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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