‘Time is ticking for the arts in Wales’: Urgency warning as £53m promised for industry

Jukebox Collective, based in Butetown, Cardiff

The Welsh Government has been argued to ensure that funding reaches Welsh arts instututions as soon as possible after they announced £53 million to help the sector recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new ‘Cultural Recovery Fund’ was announced today by the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas who said that the pandemic had damaged “the fabric of Welsh life”.

It will help protect organisations, individuals and jobs in the culture, including:

  • Theatres
  • Galleries
  • Music venues, businesses and individuals
  • Heritage sites
  • Local museums, libraries and archive services
  • Events and festivals
  • Independent cinemas

But Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Culture Minister Sian Gwenllian has called for urgency in making these funds available to the sector.

“The Welsh Government must now work to distribute this money as soon as possible and for that, they need to be clear on how the sector can apply for these funds, and the exact timetable,” she said. “Time is ticking.

“While I welcome today’s news that £53 million has been promised to the Arts industry in Wales, I would question what has happened to the £6 million – within the space of a month, £59 million has been reduced to £53 million and not a penny has reached the sector.

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Lord Elis-Thomas said that they had worked with partners across the cultural and creative sectors to put the package of support together.

“We recognise the massive and unprecedented challenges the pandemic is having on the very fabric of Welsh life and we applaud the resilience and creativity on show,” he said.

“This package will help support many in the sectors in responding to the pressures and challenges coronavirus has placed on them, it also presents a unique opportunity to deliver a step change – we will develop a cultural contract so that the sector can re-emerge stronger.

“This would ensure successful applicants commit to ensuring public investment is deployed with a positive, targeted social purpose, which is only right.”

 

‘Threat of collapse’

Funding will be dependent on a “cultural contract” which they said would build on the Welsh Government’s existing economic contract of fair work and pay and sustainability and address areas such including:

  • Board diversity
  • Retained staff to support wider initiatives
  • Social prescribing
  • Health and arts initiatives
  • Environmental sustainability

Nick Capaldi, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Wales said that the announcement of these additional funds is the signal of support that the arts in Wales has been waiting for.

“The Welsh Government’s investment is a welcome acknowledgement of the importance of the arts to the well-being of the nation and to the country’s creative economy,” he said.

“With many arts organisations facing the imminent threat of insolvency, and freelancers struggling to see when they’ll secure their next paid work, these funds ease the immediate threat of a collapse in the creative sector.

“These funds offer artists and arts organisations a breathing space to stabilise their activities and encourage them to commit to the new cultural contract. It’s not enough just to protect and defend – we must create a new future in which cultural activities reach more widely and deeply across all of the public in Wales.”

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