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Comments follow the Senedd's decision to reduce Arts Council Wales' annual funding by 10.5%.

WNO's La Traviata featuring David Junghoon Kim as Alfredo
La Traviata performed by Welsh National Opera, which is part of Arts Council of Wales' funding portfolio

Julian Guidera

The Chief Executive of Arts Council Wales (ACW) has called for a “mature, national debate” on the value of the arts following cuts to cultural spending announced by the Welsh government.

ACW was due to receive around £33.9m for the 2024/25 period but was instead allocated £30.4m in the draft budget published in December, a figure the funding body said was “the lowest since 2007/08. "

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row programme about his response to the 10.5% funding drop, Dafydd Rhys said, “This is a significant cut to the arts. In 2010, ACW was receiving somewhere in the region of £35m from the Welsh government. 


“So in real terms, it’s a cut of something in the region of 37% since 2010.

“If we accept the level of funding in 2010 was OK, we should now be in receipt of something like £55m. These are significant times for the arts and for culture generally in Wales.”

Rhys later added: “It is now time for a mature national debate about how we value the arts and how we support our world-class creatives and excellent organisations to develop and serve the communities of Wales and reach out to the world. 

“We need to build on Wales’ incredible groundbreaking work in terms of the work we do with arts and health and creative learning. The impact of better investment in the arts would be beneficial to the health and wellness of people all over Wales, and would help build a resilient sector, increasing employment while having a significant economic impact. 

“A society invests in what it values. If we value the arts here in Wales and the benefit they bring to all of us, then we need to seriously consider whether or not we’re happy with a situation where arts investment is being reduced again after a decade of real-term cuts.”

'Other sources of income'

The draft budget, which has yet to be voted on, explained that because of “protections” afforded to employability and skills, the government had to “take the difficult decision” to reprioritise £16m of funding away from culture, sport and tourism, as well as £2m from Cadw, which works to protect historic buildings, landscapes and heritage sites in Wales.

Assessing the effect of the cuts, the government acknowledged that they would likely impact expenditures linked to life-long learning, interpretation, volunteering, and public programmes.

The draft budget states: “This will also impact individual and community participation and engagement with culture and the arts and will impact engagement with children and young people.

“In considering how to meet inflationary pressures, culture bodies will need to explore other sources of income.”

A headshot of Mary Stone