ACW Chair blasts Welsh government

 

The outgoing Arts Council of Wales (ACW) chairman has attacked some parts of the Welsh Government over their attitude to the arts.

 

Prof Dai Smith said some parts of government operated in a “knuckle-headed, philistine fashion” towards the creative industries and said there was often a “silo mentality.”

He said ACW had been told to keep away from the creative industries, particular in the film and TV industry.  Prof Smith told the BBC in an interview: “I don't think government has got it right at all in the past few years when they tell the Arts Council, as they have, to keep away from the creative industries because that isn't our job.”

He added, “I think in some parts of government there has been a silo mentality. And there are some parts of government ministerial office which seem incapable of understanding that cooperation and partnership is the name of the game, not chivvying and ordering people about and sometimes getting it wrong in a knuckle-headed, philistine fashion.”

He also claimed that some people in government considered the arts to be "elitist" He said: “It's a mistake to think of the arts as some kind of elitism. The arts are elite in the sense of excellence, but nobody questions elite sport.

“And there have been times in the last 10 years, to be fair, when we have been urged by various ministers to get more involved in creative industries, which we did. It's only in recent times that - shall we call it the dictat - has stuck a little bit in my craw.”

Prof Smith also criticised the cuts in arts funding since 2010.

“What we hear all the time is, 'times are hard, money's short, austerity'. Sorry, I don't swallow that. We get something like 0.2% of the entire Welsh Government budget in direct grant-in-aid," he said. “Public funding for the arts in Wales is an absolutely essential investment.”

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