Eleven of Wales’s arts festivals are to share over £500,000 of Lottery funding to enable them to “showcase cultural and creative talent”. The announcement delivers on a promise made by the Arts Council of Wales (ACW) last year, when, as part of its Investment Review, it removed festivals from its revenue funded portfolio on the grounds that this type of funding should “be used to focus on the needs of those organisations delivering a year round programme of activity”. The only UK arts council to take this position, ACW believes Lottery funding to be more appropriate for organisations that are “more flexible and ‘fleet of foot’” and where “artistic programmes will vary significantly from year to year”.
All the festivals that were formerly ACW’s revenue funded clients are now receiving money from ACW’s new Festivals Fund: the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts scooped the largest award, with £100,000 towards its May festival and other activities throughout the year. Swansea Festival of Music and the Arts, Fishguard Music Festival and Vale of Glamorgan Festival will also continue to be funded. Former revenue clients Llangollen Eisteddfod and the North Wales International Music Festival had already been given Transitional Funding and will be eligible to apply for the next round of festivals funding from September. Brecon Jazz Festival, which is currently running under the management of the Hay Festival, is still operating under a three-year funding agreement which will end in March next year, after which it too will be eligible to apply for funding from the new Festivals Fund. Festivals celebrating new funds include Hijinx Theatre’s Unity Festival, the only UK festival that concentrates on presenting art and performance created by people with and without disability working together as equals. Locws International, which works with contemporary artists to create new visual artworks and projects that respond to the culture and heritage of the city of Swansea, is another new winner.
ACW Chief Executive Nick Capaldi told AP: “Festivals are a priority for Wales. This new and different approach to festival funding will help us to respond to their needs in a more strategic and flexible way. In fact we are making more money available for festivals… this week’s announcement of Lottery funding demonstrates our commitment.” Other commitments made in ACW’s Investment Review are also taking shape. Consultations have now closed on a Strategy for Children, Young People and the Arts, a Theatre Production Development Fund, a National Touring Fund and a strategy for Public Art Development. The Council is considering its responses to these consultations, and these will be published next month. Later in the year ACW is planning new initiatives to stimulate the music industry in Wales, and raise the profile of Welsh artists both within and outside Wales.