The arts industry in Wales will be “decimated” without immediate support from the Welsh Government, Plaid Cymru has warned.
Their call comes after UK Government Chancellor Rishi Sunak said yesterday that many in the arts might have to find alternative employment.
“I can’t pretend that everyone can do exactly the same job that they were doing at the beginning of this crisis,” he told ITV News. “Everyone is having to adapt.”
But Shadow Culture Minister Sian Gwenllian MS said the sector – and thousands of jobs – were being left to “wither on the vine”.
She said that Plaid Cymru will today call on Welsh Government to take practical steps to protect freelance workers and arts, cultural and heritage centres, among others.
“The impending decimation of the Welsh arts industry from this pandemic will have a grave and far-reaching impact,” Sian Gwenllian said.
“Not only for the thousands who have or will lose their jobs and careers, but without a thriving creative industry, who will tell our story now?
“It is deplorable that the Westminster job support scheme is unlikely to save many of our cultural attractions and live music venues from closure. In one simple move thousands of jobs – which, up until now, had been saved through furlough – have been re-categorised as ‘unviable’.
“Meanwhile, the Labour Government in Wales have plenty of warm words but offer no real actions nor solutions on the short, medium and long-term problems.”
In July the Welsh Government announced a £53 million ‘Cultural Recovery Fund’ to help the sector recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
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.”
Yesterday Rishi Sunak highlighted the government’s £1.57bn rescue package for the arts – although that money is principally being distributed to museums, galleries and venues, rather than individuals.
In August, £3.36m of the fund was distributed to grassroots venues in England and Wales, to save them from immediate closure.
However, a further announcement on how the emergency funding would be allocated – which was due on Monday – has been delayed by a week for “additional due diligence”.
Overall, £59 million of the £1.57bn package will be allocated to Wales.