The Arts Council of Wales is keen to help the sector attract funding from trusts and foundations to increase resilience.

Production shot with cloaked figure
A performance at Chapter Arts Centre, which responded to the inquiry

Welsh arts organisations could begin launching collaborative, nationwide bids for funding from trusts and foundations after the Arts Council of Wales (ACW) expressed support for the idea.

Speaking at a Welsh Assembly inquiry meeting on non-public funding for the arts last week, Sybil Crouch, Director of Taliesin Arts Centre, suggested the cultural sector should combine expertise and resources to “make more powerful arguments”.

She also said joint applications to trusts and foundations for artforms and areas in need of support would be more beneficial than relying on funding from ACW, which may not be able to supply enough funding on its own.

ACW told AP it was in favour of the idea and that it recognised it “must do even more” to find appropriate ways of working collaboratively with artists and arts organisations.

“In our evidence to the Committee we have suggested a number of possibilities, of which working more strategically with trusts and foundations would be one,” a spokesperson said. “Our conversations with trusts and foundations indicate that they would welcome good quality applications from Wales that address strategically important issues.

“Such an approach is certainly one that we would favour and we’re always keen to look at any initiatives that make the arts in Wales more successful at securing additional funding.”

Brand Wales

Although calls were made in previous inquiry sessions for a national advocacy campaign to promote ‘Brand Wales’ – suggesting this would raise the profile of culture and help the sector raise more funds – the latest respondents were less enthusiastic about the capacities of such a programme.

Emma Goad, Manager of Blue Canary Fundraising, and Rachel Jones, Chief Executive of Arts & Business Cymru, agreed that investments from high net-worth individuals were not driven by external factors, but instead by personal passion.

Similarly, when asked about the potential for generating donations from the Welsh public, Yvonne Murphy, Artistic Director of Omidaze Theatre Company, urged Assembly Members to think more widely. “No one in Yorkshire would ever think of just getting funding from people in Yorkshire,” she said.

Murphy also expressed concern about an increasing reliance on crowdfunding in the wake of decreasing public funding. “Crowdfunding is like the cake sale that we’ve been doing forever, except on a global, digital scale,” she said. “But the thing is, you tap your immediate circles first. You can only really crowdfund once, because you can only use those people once.”

Creative Wales

Creative Wales, a new organisation being set up to maximise the economic impact of the creative sector in the country, generated a mixed response from those attending the inquiry.

Andy Eagle, Director of Chapter Arts Centre, said there was a role for ACW to be “involved more directly” in the creative industries, suggesting the creation of a separate body was unnecessary. This was built on by Crouch, who said creative individuals are developed on a “seed bed” of public investment. “That’s where the creative individuals are grown, which then move into the more commercial elements. So, having them as separate parts of the system, I think, is perhaps difficult.”

By contrast, Goad said Creative Wales would be “really able to help arts organisations develop” by helping them to diversify and “really make the most of what they are”.