Creative Wales “coming soon” as AMs debate film & TV inquiry

(Title Image: BBC Wales)

Yesterday, the Senedd discussed the Culture Committee’s report on film and television production in Wales – summary here.

Progress can’t be allowed to stall

Committee Chair, Bethan Sayed AM (Plaid, South Wales West), believed there was a reason to celebrate successes in the film and TV industries, but the demands of the industry were moving at a faster pace than the government perhaps likes.

Several media funds are yet to make significant returns on investments despite existing in various forms for several years. There was also criticism of slow progress on the establishment of the Creative Wales body.

“We were told in February that the Minister would announce details on the form, function, preferred board members and the governance arrangements of Creative Wales in April of this year. The statement that was released in April gives no more information on any of these issues. It’s filled with well-meaning phrases such as, ‘Partnership and collaboration are key to successful delivery’, and that Creative Wales will embrace the synergies between the economy and culture of Wales. But there was no mention of how this will be done….”
Committee Chair, Bethan Sayed AM

Shadow Culture Minister, David Melding AM (Con, South Wales Central), noted that while Wales does better than most English regions here, we were still falling short on economic impacts. He said the potential of Welsh language productions was there, not only in terms of the cultural value but also in terms of marketing the country as a whole.

Caroline Jones AM (BXP, South Wales West) believes the future relies on building up home-grown production companies and talent instead of chasing Hollywood cash. It was important to keep up with a changing market where streaming services have exploded, so Welsh companies need to be supported to produce high-quality content across multiple platforms.

No date yet for Creative Wales

Deputy Minister for Culture, Media & Sport, Dafydd Elis-Thomas (Ind, Dwyfor Meirionnydd), said Welsh Government support for the industry has resulted in Cardiff becoming a centre of excellence for high-end productions and Wales generally becoming competitive as a filming location. Spend on the film and TV sector has increased from £35million in 2016-17 to £55million in 2018-19.

Creative Wales – as a proposed arms-length Welsh Government body – will develop a strategy to maintain growth in all of the creative industries, so not just film and TV. However, the Deputy Minister was cagey over precisely how long this process will take:

“Once the director, who will be an experienced official, is appointed through an external procurement process, then there will be moves to appoint a chair. And then, once a chair is appointed, there will be a call for board members. So, I am confident that the process of completing the establishment of Creative Wales will have been completed around the same time as Brexit. And if that isn’t sufficiently clear, then I am unable to give you more detail in terms of dates, because any recruitment process depends on the response that we receive.”
– Deputy Minister for Culture, Media & Sport, Dafydd Elis-Thomas

He hinted that major productions could be required to hold auditions in Wales as a condition of funding, while Creative Wales will also be responsible for marketing Wales’ creative industries abroad.

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