Dialogue with artists, the arts sector, participants, Assembly members, representative bodies and audience members is underpinning forthcoming arts strategy decisions.
The Chair of Arts Council of Wales (ACW), Professor Dai Smith, has made a commitment to “deep listening” to the views of the people of Wales as ACW prepares its artform strategies for the next five years. “We lead because you lead us,” said Smith, speaking in Cardiff to attenders at the last of four ‘Open Space’ events at which ACW encouraged all stakeholders in the future of the arts in Wales to explore the question “What kind of creative Wales would you like to see by 2020 and how do we get there?” 350 people attended the events, including ACW’s executive team and nine of its 15 board members: their deliberations will lead to the drafting of artform policies which will be put out to consultation in the autumn. Chief Executive Nick Capaldi praised the energy and positive ambition of the sector, revealed through the events: “Despite challenging times it is clear there is still a stubborn determination to carry on producing great art in Wales, and no sense of wanting to re-trench or diminish ambition… A common theme has been generosity of spirit – the desire for cooperation and coming together, and especially for artists to feel connected to others. Also, there is clearly an evangelical desire to achieve better public understanding and enjoyment of the arts, and the sector is keen to share responsibility for this – to attack the assumption that ‘the arts aren’t for me.’” Another strong theme emerging from conversations was the importance of the arts connecting with education, and Capaldi warned: “There is always a danger that this could lapse, and that the arts could be sidelined in mainstream education.” A group including ministers with responsibility for both education and the arts, chaired by Dai Smith, is currently examining the way the arts and education sectors work together, and considering issues such as the relationship between arts activities, literacy and numeracy, and how arts participation reduces the impact of poverty and disadvantage. The group is due to report in September.