Welsh body tasked with delivering post-Brexit festival confident it will leave ‘rich cultural legacy’ in Wales
The Welsh body tasked with delivering a so-called ‘festival of Brexit’ have said they are confident it will leave a “rich cultural and educational legacy” after MPs branded the UK-wide celebration, Unboxed, a waste of 120m.
The House of Commons culture, media and sport committee harshly criticised the Unboxed festival in a new report, saying that its aims were “vague and shape-shifting” and had been “vague and ripe for misinterpretation by the press and public at large”.
“The desire for it to seemingly cater to everyone, everywhere, is a recipe for failure,” they said.
The committee noted that Unboxed is being delivered at arm’s length across the UK, with each nation having selected a delivery body to commission work, with Creative Wales delivering the project in Wales.
But a spokesperson for Creative Wales told Nation.Cymru that they were confident that the project would leave its mark on Wales.
“We are looking forward to an exciting celebration of creativity during 2022,” they said.
“In Wales, this will be based on co-creating opportunities with the science, technology, engineering and maths sectors, involving communities right across Wales, so that it leaves a rich cultural and educational legacy for people across the country.
“It’s exciting to see some of the projects come to fruition, with the first of the UK commissions – About Us – coming to Caernarfon later this month.
“Wales’ lead commission, Galwad – which is inspired by the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, and draws on global expertise in the climatic, technological and social conditions of the next thirty years – involves diverse communities exploring the possibilities for Wales’ future in 2052.
“The story of Galwad will unfold across TV drama, digital platforms and live events which will include communities across Wales for a week in September. This will be the finale of the whole Unboxed programme.”
In 2018 Theresa May promised a national event to “showcase what makes our country great” as Britain left the EU, with the aim of recreating the celebrations of the 2012 London Olympics.
What was quickly dubbed the ‘festival of Brexit’ has since then evolved into the Unboxed festival, which began this month with a light show in Paisley which will soon visit Caernarfon.
But MPs said that it had confused even the UK Government that had commissioned it.
The MPs conclude: “The desire for it to seemingly cater to everyone, everywhere, is a recipe for failure and investing £120 million in something when the government, by their own admission, ‘did not know what it was’ is an irresponsible use of public money.”
They added that “the government is spending a lot of money on this year’s major events. Yet while individual occasions may well deliver memorable moments, we see no golden thread linking the events.”
Martin Green, chief creative officer of Unboxed, insisted the festival’s opening had received an “overwhelmingly positive public response, underpinning a commitment to bring large-scale cultural programming to places often underserved”.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said that Unboxed and other spectacles this year would be “bringing people together and leaving a strong legacy that will benefit communities for years to come”.
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