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Equity research reveals extent of ‘devastating’ arts funding cuts in Wales

28 Jun 2024 3 minute read
Equity members from the WNO Chorus sign an open letter to David Davies MP and Jo Stevens MP calling on them to intervene to save their jobs. Photo Helen Smith/Equity)

New research from the performing arts and entertainment trade union Equity has revealed what it describes as “devastating” arts funding cuts in Wales

The research, released following a public rally outside the Wales Millennium Centre on Thursday (27 June) is part of the union’s campaign to protect its members at the Welsh National Opera (WNO) from redundancies and pay cuts after a reduction in funding.

According to the study, the constituency of Cardiff South & Penarth, the home of the WNO, has been hit by a significant arts funding cut.

The research commissioned by Equity and carried out by the Autonomy research institute, shows Arts Council of Wales support to Cardiff South & Penarth has been reduced by £5.48 million (15%) in real terms over the last decade.

Arts Council of Wales

Looking at Wales overall, the Arts Council of Wales has cut funding across the board by 30% since 2017, while funding to Cardiff East, the home of Jo Stevens, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, has been reduced by £29 million or 47% compared to 10 years ago.

In comparison, the UK overall has seen 16% real terms cut from in arts funding from national bodies (Arts Councils in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, alongside Creative Scotland) since 2017.

Following Thursday’s rally, singers from the Welsh National Opera signed an open letter to Secretary of State for Wales David Davies, and the Shadow Secretary of State Jo Stevens, calling them to intervene to save the jobs at risk of redundancy at the WNO.

Compulsory redundancies

In the letters which will be delivered by hand to local constituency offices next week, the full-time members of the WNO chorus wrote: “As a consequence of cuts to funding from both Arts Council England and Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru/Arts Council of Wales, the WNO has proposed compulsory redundancies, a reduction of contracted working weeks, and at least a 15% salary cut to Equity members working at WNO.

“These proposals, driven by austerity in public arts funding, undermine the job security of us as workers in this highly skilled professional ensemble. Jobs like ours are rare in this industry. To put at risk some of the few secure contracts available to creative workers in Wales would damage our industry, and the economy.

“One of you will likely be the next Secretary of State for Wales. We demand that you intervene on our behalf, and on behalf of the Welsh creative industry, to safeguard our jobs through a guarantee of additional funding.

“This money cannot go into bricks and mortar, or to outside consultants. It must be ringfenced to support these rare, high quality, secure jobs in Wales.

“This is not a party political demand. This is a demand from workers in Wales, that both of you do what it takes to support high quality Welsh jobs for the long term.”

Last week the Musicians’ Union confirmed it was balloting members at the WNO for industrial action in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Those members will vote whether to launch a campaign of action opposing plans to make the orchestra part-time and cut musicians’ pay by 15%.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
16 days ago

A law degree does not broaden the mind or develop humanistic sympathies…

There should be a limit on solicitor politicians in the Senedd otherwise they can become overbearing and collegiate, hence ‘closed lists’ etc…

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