Wales’ national youth arts ensembles will join forces under a new business model in a bid to safeguard their future.

Photo of the youth orchestra playing

Geraint Thomas

The national youth arts ensembles of Wales are to be joined under a single legal identity through the umbrella body National Youth Arts Wales. The move is made following recommendations by a ‘task and finish’ group established by the Welsh Government in response to concerns of possible funding cuts.

There are seven national youth ensembles in Wales, which collectively comprise the National Youth Arts Wales portfolio. The Welsh Joint Education Committee currently administers the National Youth Orchestra, National Youth Theatre and National Youth Dance, while the National Youth Brass Band, National Youth Choirs, National Youth Jazz, and National Youth Wind Orchestra of Wales are managed by Tŷ Cerdd. Between them, they select around 400 young people a year to join the ensembles, as well as offering wider development initiatives.

The purpose of the task and finish group was to find long-term funding and administrative solutions for all the national youth ensembles. Its report makes eight core recommendations, concluding that a unified structure will “provide a clear purpose, direction and vision for all the ensembles” and enable them to develop new ways of attracting alternative sources of funding. All 22 local authorities in Wales have agreed to extend their funding to 2016/17 to support the ensembles as they move towards a more sustainable model.

The aim is for the unified body to be launched in October 2016. An independent interim board will be appointed to oversee the changes and determine a viable model for the future ensembles. The Welsh Government and the Arts Council of Wales will jointly support the appointment of an Interim Implementation Manager to co-ordinate the transition to the new structure.

The Chair of the task and finish group, Diane Hebb, said: “The task and finish group was set up at a difficult time, with the immediate future of some of the ensembles looking very uncertain. The publication of this report marks the first step on the journey towards securing the future of the ensembles so that thousands more of our most talented young people can benefit from their services.”

Liz Hill