Evaluating the Arts Council funding review
Nicola Heywood Thomas
The long-awaited Arts Council of Wales review into funding is out and, inevitably, there are winners and losers. Some organisations that have enjoyed revenue funding will no longer get the annual grant from the Arts Council; others which have previously not had it will be celebrating their change of status.
But it's not all as clear cut as the headlines might suggest. The review has been a lengthy process that examined all the aims and business plans of arts organisations and venues that ACW funded and about 20 that the council invited to apply to join that list. Its title was "Renewal and transformation: building a stronger future for the arts in Wales" and, with ever tightening budgets, the value and impact of where that money's spent is all important.
Of course, in an ideal world all arts projects could get financial backing. Everyone's interests and passions could be paid for and all communities could be served equally well. The reality is that now, more than ever, the pot of public money for the arts is under growing pressure.
The Arts Council of Wales states very clearly that it is backing quality and excellence and wants the arts in Wales to grow and develop. It has outlined a core of revenue funded organisations and wants others to apply for more flexible types of funding. The review seems to me to be, not only thorough and unbiased, but as fair as it can be.
Only time will tell and, unfortunately, this is only the first hurdle. When it comes to finding out how money each organisation will receive in the forthcoming year, there'll be another agonising wait until ACW itself knows what size cloth has been allocated to be cut into Wales' cultural coat.