AMs call for more detail on the cultural impact of Brexit

(Title Image: Wales Arts International)

Yesterday, AMs discussed the Culture Committee’s report on the impact Brexit will have on the creative industries – a summary of which you can find here.

EU funding “has boosted arts and culture”

Chair of the Culture Committee, Bethan Sayed AM (Plaid, South Wales West) said Brexit could potentially be as damaging to the creative industries and the Welsh language as it might be to agriculture.

The UK has received more funding from the EU’s Creative Europe than any other EU member state, while the Common Agricultural Policy has played a vital role in supporting primarily Welsh-speaking rural areas. There were other implications people might not have considered:

“The ability to generate income from touring productions in Europe is a vital part of our creative industry’s business model. For instance, during the last financial year, the NoFitState circus generated almost 40% of its total turnover from touring. We heard that any restrictions on touring would jeopardise the viability of touring productions such as those of the National Dance Company Wales and British orchestras.”
– Chair of the Culture Committee, Bethan Sayed AM

David Melding AM (Con, South Wales Central) said many arts and heritage organisations wanted to remain part of EU programmes such as Erasmus+ (student exchange), Horizon 2020 (science) and Creative Europe. Some of these programmes were open to third parties, but third parties are only allowed to draw out as much funding as they put in or less.

“….if Brexit comes to pass along any of the lines presently envisaged, then it will mean that Wales will have to work even harder to be recognised, it will have to work even harder to export our work internationally, and it will have to work even harder to participate on the international stage that our artists and production companies have struggled so hard to find a footing in. Their excellence cannot be displaced, and it must work, finally, even harder to attract funding for Welsh arts in a climate of cuts to the Welsh budget.”
– Rhianon Passmore AM (Lab, Islwyn)

The future of the Welsh language “doesn’t exist in a vacuum”

Delyth Jewell AM (Plaid, South Wales East) said lack of attention and investment in the arts may well have contributed to Brexit; particularly the declining numbers of secondary school pupils studying modern foreign languages. She said learning another language gives you a sense of empathy with a different culture and one of the key findings in the report was a rise in “linguaphobia” towards languages other than English since the Brexit vote.

Suzy Davies AM (Con, South Wales West) reemphasised the potential risks to the Welsh language:

“The future of the Welsh language doesn’t exist in a vacuum, so I’m pleased to see reference to agriculture and the relatively high percentage of Welsh speakers in that sector. The language was given scant regard in ‘Brexit and our land’….where there was no evidence provided. I’m eager to know what assurances the Minister gave to the Committee that Welsh language impact assessments were an integral part of the Government’s preparations for Brexit….because it wasn’t clear in the evidence provided to other committees.”
– Suzy Davies AM

Suzy added that Wales benefits from being able to promote its unique culture, but also its agility in language skills, which is why it’s Conservative policy to create a “trilingual Wales”.

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