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More cuts announced for arts organisations in Wales

09 Feb 2024 5 minute read
Dafydd Rhys, the Arts Council’s chief executive

Martin Shipton

Further across-the-board cuts of 2.5% are being imposed on arts organisations following a reduction in the money made available to the Arts Council of Wales by the Welsh Government.

Dafydd Rees, the Arts Council’s chief executive, said: “The financial situation facing the arts in Wales is challenging. A 10.5% cut to our budget for next year, coupled with the effects of inflation, means that the Arts Council has to make extremely difficult decisions.

“In its meeting last week, our Council agreed that we would reduce our conditional Multi Year Funding offers by 2.5% equally across all 81 organisations. The sector has already suffered a real-terms cut due to the effects of the cost of living crisis and is still struggling following the effects of the pandemic.

“We strongly believe that to pass on a further 10.5% cut would have been an unrealistic option that would have severely damaged the sector’s ability to deliver against our principles and strategic priorities. We will engage with each of these organisations to discuss the implications of this decision further.

“As an organisation we have consulted with the trade union Unite and have agreed on a redundancy policy that was also endorsed by a members’ vote. We are therefore currently consulting with our staff on voluntary redundancies, but it’s inevitable that we’ll have to consider further cuts to our own operational costs.

“I’d like to thank our staff for their professionalism and dedication during this difficult time.”

Draft budget

Following the publication of the Welsh Government’s draft Budget for 2024-25, Mr Rhys said: “Our current budget is lower than it was in 2010 which means that we have already lost a third of our real-terms funding since then.

“This significant new cut of 10.5% will make it even more challenging to ensure that high quality arts activity is available across Wales for all our communities. The invaluable work that we support in Arts and Health, Education, the Welsh language and our work in widening engagement will be affected – all of which are Government priorities. In fact, this provisional budget of £30.429m for 2024/25 is the lowest since 2007/08.

“It’s worth noting that approximately 90% of the funding we receive is distributed all over Wales to organisations and creative individuals which means that the impact of the cut will affect communities the length and breadth of the country.

“Wales is a nation that has always valued the arts. We will look at all our costs and prioritise the available funds under this proposed budget for the broader sector and the Investment Review. Whilst one accepts that these are extremely difficult fiscal times for the government, we also need to consider as a nation what we believe to be the right level of funding for the arts and the communities we serve throughout Wales.”

Grants

Even before the announcement of the latest cuts, some organisations found themselves deleted from the list of those earmarked for multi-year grants. One of those affected was National Theatre Wales, whose future is now in doubt.

The Books Council of Wales, which receives funding directly from the Welsh Government, has also had its grant cut. As a result it has passed on cuts to the organisations it funds. One casualty is the cultural magazine Planet, which has just published its final issue.

In a statement on its website, Planet, which was first published in 1970, says: “Sadly, as our core funding from the Books Council of Wales will not continue from April 1 2024 following a competitive tender, the February issue is the final Planet issue, for the time being at least. This issue will be available from ourselves and in shops for the next few months.

“We would like to thank our readers, guest review editors, contributors, sponsors and supporters. It’s been a joy to work for you all. Many thanks to everyone who has been in touch to offer support.

“Our core funding has been successively cut to less than half it was in 2008, and we are a micro-organisation run not-for-profit – a company limited by guarantee. We therefore need help to reach essential costs and have launched this crowdfunder.

“The crowdfunder would contribute towards statutory payments to support staff through the redundancy process, and costs associated with closing down the magazine. This would avoid the company that owns Planet (Berw Cyf) going into debt, or entering liquidation and losing its intellectual property rights, and thus to enable Planet’s legacy to be preserved, for example through keeping our website live, and make it as feasible as possible legally and administratively to potentially relaunch in the future in a more favourable funding environment in order to continue our work for Welsh culture and Welsh internationalism.

“We are very grateful for any amount you can afford to offer this campaign. To contribute simply follow this link: https://igg.me/at/planetmag.”

When the magazine was campaigning for its continued existence, poet Menna Elfyn endorsed it, saying: “Without Planet, our world would be not only smaller and more inward-looking but also impoverished in creativity and intellectual expression. Planet is a first-rate magazine and as someone who travels a great deal I have yet to find a magazine like it. It is simply unique.”


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Professor Linden Peach
Professor Linden Peach
3 months ago

Menna Elfyn puts her finger on what the closure of Planet means for Wales. Since 1970, it has provided a welcome platform for ideas, initiatives, projects and creativity, has enabled the flow of fresh ideas and initiatives into Wales and has engaged, and helped all of us to engage, with the rest of the world, creating a nexus of small nations at the same time. I am proud to have an article in the final edition on the Israeli Gaza conflict in the light of the Welsh literary pacifist tradition based on my book Pacifism, Peace and Modern Welsh Writing… Read more »

Jen
Jen
3 months ago

It is a great shame that funding has gone to organisations such as Stonewall at the expense of arts bodies.

hdavies15
hdavies15
3 months ago
Reply to  Jen

That in one short sentence sums up how absolutely bonkers our Bay regime is. Gays and many other “minorities” have benefitted far more from participation and exposure to the arts than the manipulations of Stonewall who seem to have a mesmeric grip on our political class.

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
3 months ago

I am a great believer in subsidising the arts but I am always reminded of Yes Minister where it was pointed out that taxes were collected from those who cannot afford afford subsidised performances whilst well paid middle class individuals reaped the benefits.

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