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Funding decisions loom for Wales’ arts bodies

29 Jul 2023 5 minute read
Photo by Nation.Cymru

Martin Shipton

Big decisions are looming over funding for Wales’ arts organisations, with some fearing they may be put out of business.

There have been concerns, for example, about the future of Welsh National Opera (WNO), which receives grants from the arts councils of both Wales and England.

Dafydd Rhys, chief executive of the Arts Council of Wales (ACW), confirmed that board members would be meeting on September 7 and 8 to decide which bodies should receive grants in the coming years and, if so, how much they should get.

ACW provides two kinds of funding. There are one-off grants to particular arts projects, but most of the money available is distributed to arts companies on a multi-year basis.

Usually a review of multi-year funding takes place every five years, but because of the pandemic there hasn’t been such a review since 2015.

We spoke to Mr Rhys about the process, but he made it clear that he couldn’t comment on the likely outcomes for individual bodies.

However, he made it clear that tough decisions were having to be taken: “What I can say is that the ask is for more than what we have to spend. No decisions have been taken yet. All the arts bodies had until a date in March to submit their applications.

“In terms of grant-in-aid for arts organisations, we had between £32m and £33m this year. Our allocation from the Welsh Government was cut by 1.1%. Currently there are 67 organisations that receive multi-year funding from us. What the council has to decide is which bodies should be included on the list. It’s possible that some may come off and others are put on. There is a set of principles in line with which we make our decisions about which organisations to fund.”


The principles are based on a remit letter written to ACW by Deputy Arts Minister Dawn Bowden in December 2021.

Among the principles set out in Ms Bowden’s letter are these:

* Implement ways of supporting good mental health across the organisation, ensuring that there is no stigma attached to mental health issues. Ensure that the workforce is appropriately trained to support those suffering from mental health issues. Further develop your relationships with the NHS Confederation Wales and local health boards within Wales to promote opportunities for the arts to contribute to health and well-being.

* Ensure the broadest range of vulnerable groups can engage with the arts in Wales and are not excluded from participation. This should include identifying and delivering specific opportunities that enable people in vulnerable or disadvantaged groups and those in under-represented communities to benefit from the arts. Consider the opportunities you currently offer to looked-after children and care leavers and how these could be improved.

* Provide a new or improved range of options to support the young people of Wales into work – these could include apprenticeships, training, work experience and mentoring programmes and should be aligned with the Young Person’s Guarantee. Build and strengthen local, regional, national and international partnerships for the benefit of Arts Council of Wales, the Welsh economy and the people of Wales.

* Support the Welsh Government’s commitment to achieving a zero-carbon economy by working to become carbon neutral by 2030. Support the Welsh Government’s target of 45% of journeys being undertaken by sustainable modes by 2040.

* Focus on waste reduction across the whole of the organisation and work to achieve zero waste targets and towards abolishing the use of more commonly littered, single-use plastics. Work with organisations you fund to promote the use of separate recycling containers for food waste, paper and card, metal and plastics, glass, textiles and small waste electronic and electrical equipment within venues.

* Work with the Welsh Government to extend and develop the Creative Learning through the Arts programme. Consider how the reform of the school day and school year may impact on your education services and on your Arts Portfolio members. Develop future focused skills and employability programmes, encouraging young people into the sector.

* Consider how the governance of the Arts Council supports the principles of ‘Reflecting Wales in Running Wales’ and move to urgently address any areas which require action – this must include improving diversity in the workforce and at board level. Implement the goals of the Race Equality Action Plan, considering how the Arts Council of Wales will directly contribute to delivering an anti-racist Wales. Implement the goals of the LGBTQ+ Action Plan. Ensure the histories and cultures of our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities are properly represented by the Arts Council of Wales and its delivery partners. Work with the new network of Disabled People’s Employment Champions to help close the gap between disabled people and the rest of the working population. Push forward towards a million Welsh speakers, and enable our tourism, sports and arts industries to thrive.

* Drive forward the Programme for Government commitment to invest in our theatres, including Theatr Clwyd. In partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, take forward the development and establishment of the National Contemporary Art Gallery.

* Respond to the Cymraeg 2050 strategy by continuing to increase the number of Welsh speakers, the use of the Welsh language, and by creating favourable conditions in which the Welsh language can thrive.

* Work with local communities, groups, individuals and the creative sectors to share good practice and develop skills. Work with local communities, groups, individuals and creative sectors across Wales to enable access to the arts.

* Develop international cultural partnerships that bring benefit to Wales, encourage engagement with diverse histories, and enhance the international profile of Wales. Consider opportunities for learning exchange programmes. Ensure the best use of digital technology, digitisation and digital events as a means of enabling world-wide engagement with Welsh arts and culture. Engage with the Welsh diaspora.

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Euros Lewis
Euros Lewis
8 months ago

Celfyddydau ag arian y wladwriaeth = Cydymffurfio!
Arts via state funding = Conformity!
Creadigrwydd ystyrlon = Cwestiynu / Tanseilio
Meaningful creativity = Questioning / Subversity

Bachgen o Lerpwl
8 months ago
Reply to  Euros Lewis

Totally agree why should those who cannot afford to go to the Opera pay taxes to support those who choose to go because they like it. Those who like the arts need to support it financially.

8 months ago

Some support for the Arts ( whatever they may be at any point in time) is justifiable especially new emerging operations that are seen to be capable of a self sustaining future. I think it’s called Pump priming. However anything that smacks of “culture wars” should be told to find its own way in the world. Long established ventures/events, like Yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol, should have to make a case every 3-5 years instead of setting out to suck increasing amounts of scarce resource from the public purse. Too many hangers-on getting free tickets when they are often the very people… Read more »

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