AMs told the arts are unlikely to receive extra public funding “for some years to come”

(Title Image: Arts Wales)

Yesterday, the Senedd discussed the Culture Committee’s report into non-public funding for the arts – summary here.

An indispensable part of Welsh life

Responding on behalf of the Committee, Dr. Dai Lloyd AM (Plaid, South Wales West) told AMs that the arts were an “indispensable” part of Welsh life and something we rightly celebrate, but funding has been cut significantly.

“The vast majority of the Welsh Government’s budget allocations for the arts are for the Arts Council of Wales. In the 2017-18 budget, out of the £31.7 million allocated in this area, £31.2 million was allocated to the arts council. However, between 2011-12 and 2017-18, Welsh Government funding of the Arts Council has declined by 18% in real terms.”
– Dr. Dai Lloyd AM

The arts in Wales have also lost lottery funding and funding from councils due to cuts. Wales also faces challenges in attracting corporate sponsorship for the arts due to the lack of large businesses and higher profile arts organisations.

Fundraising success “A sign of art’s health”

Shadow Culture Minister, David Melding AM (Con, South Wales Central) said non-public funding was a sign of the art sector’s relative health or otherwise.

“We do realise that, in Wales, we face some particular challenges. We are not London, but there again most of the UK isn’t London. But an awful lot of the energy and the sponsorship that that generates through the business sector doesn’t flow very far from London, and the metropolitan scene that’s centred in London can be somewhat stifling sometimes.”
– Shadow Culture Minister, David Melding AM

He didn’t, however, believe this should result in a lack of confidence as Wales has some success stories such as the Welsh National Opera and Artes Mundi Prize. David supported the Committee’s call for fundraising expertise to be strengthened and better co-ordinated.

Caroline Jones AM (Ind, South Wales West) said that while the arts only accounts for around 0.17% of the Welsh budget, the creative industries support 5,300 businesses and up to 49,000 jobs. She also stressed that while exploration of non-public funding was necessary, public funding was still needed in some form.

Undeniable pressures

Culture Minister, Dafydd Elis-Thomas (Ind, Dwyfor Meirionnydd) told the chamber that the arts were facing undeniable financial pressures and there was unlikely to be a substantial increase in funding “for some years to come” – so support for attracting alternative funding will increase instead:

“We are eager to assist Arts & Business Cymru to continue the work to encourage corporate sponsorship and to encourage more people to become involved with the arts….I have asked officials to arrange partnerships where some of the core funding of Arts & Business Cymru will be based on the level of additional investment they secure for the broader arts sector.”
– Culture Minister, Dafydd Elis-Thomas

The Minister also said talks with the likes of the British Council, Arts Council, Books Council and National Museum Wales to improve the international reach of Welsh arts and culture were “extremely positive”. An internal Welsh Government agency – Creative Wales – will soon be established along the Cadw-style model to improve the economic potential of the Welsh creative sector.

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