Future of Welsh theatre ‘very bleak’ without government action

An empty theatre

The future of Welsh theatre will be “very bleak” without urgent Welsh Government action, a prominent artistic director at a major Welsh theatre company has said.

Jeremy Turner, Artistic Director at Arad Goch has said that extra funding is the “only way” theatre will survive and continue to be viable in Wales after the Coronavirus crisis.

“Direct and strategic investment” was needed from both the Welsh and Westminster Governments to cover the next few years,” he said.

“We are in a pretty desperate situation as it stands – income from live performances has disappeared whilst theatres are shut, which means that extra funding is the only way theatre will survive and continue to be viable in Wales,” Jeremy Turner said.

“Small theatre companies’ impact and role in the community should not be underestimated. Arad Goch reaches over 24,000 children and young people annually, and plays an important role in Welsh language targets that the Welsh Government has set. It’s important for children and young people to be exposed to Welsh within the arts to understand that the language is used and valuable in all areas of society, not just in schools.

“Our work also has a role to play in the wellbeing of children and young people as in a recent production of INSIDE OUTSIDE about the effect of ACEs on children’s mental health. The theatre productions companies in Wales, including the community theatre companies, are just as important and threatened  as the large theatres and arts centres.

“If the Welsh Government doesn’t ensure that there are funds flowing through the industry to keep it going, the future of Welsh theatre will be very bleak indeed. Direct and strategic investment is needed from the Welsh and UK Governments to cover the next year or two at least.

“The theatre economy in Wales has already been struggling for years, since it seems that the arts are always the first to take a hit when there are cuts. Staff within the industry, especially in small- and mid-scale companies, are already stretched, filling multiple roles simultaneously; there isn’t headroom for months without income.”

 

‘Intrinsic’

Plaid Cymru MS Siân Gwenllian has called on Welsh Government to reassess the support it can offer the Arts Sector in Wales with its own resources, in the absence of the long awaited announcement about financial support from the Westminster Government.

She has called on the Welsh Government to step up and support the sector by using the resources it has at hand, given the “disappointing lack of urgency” from Westminster.

“The Welsh Government needs to be better prepared,” Siân Gwenllian, who is Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Minister for Education, Culture and the Welsh Language, said.

“The long-overdue announcement from the UK Government about the financial support for the Arts Sector still hasn’t been made, which means there’s no sign of consequential funding for Wales.

“Welsh Government must now design a bespoke scheme for this struggling industry, utilising its own resources as best it can in the absence of support from the Tories in Westminster. Surely there are flexibilities in the furlough scheme so its workers can continue to be paid whilst other industries are able start up again?

“The Arts plays an intrinsic role here in Wales; not only historically and culturally, but in our everyday lives. It has played a crucial role in helping people deal with the significant psychological pressures caused by the lockdown; we have all taken comfort in music, books, TV, or films – all products of the Arts Sector.

“If the industry is properly supported, it can continue to play a central part in our lives, and it can help us process what we’ve been through together during these unprecedented times.

“We owe it to future generations in Wales to protect this crucial part of our society. The Well-being of Future Generations Act refers to evidence that shows that ‘valuing arts and creativity is beneficial for our economic, environmental, social and cultural well-being’. We cannot rob ourselves, nor our children and grandchildren of such a significant contributor to well-being.”

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