Wales politics

Literature Wales review critics arrogant, Medwin Hughes says

Medwyn Hughes
Image caption Professor Medwyn Hughes said he saw "little humility" over the summer

The chairman of a controversial review of literature and publishing in Wales has accused critics of his work of "arrogance".

Prof Medwin Hughes's review called for many of the responsibilities of Literature Wales to be transferred to the Welsh Books Council.

Literature Wales and the Arts Council of Wales have criticised the report.

But Mr Hughes told assembly members they would be "shocked" by some of the accounts he was given of the industry.

Economy Secretary Ken Skates said at the time of the report that he was "minded" to accept its recommendations.

Literature Wales and the Arts Council of Wales have criticised the accuracy of the report and perceived conflicts of interest among members of the review panel.

Others, including the Welsh Books Council, have approved its findings.

Literature Wales received £717,000 from the Welsh Government through the Arts Council of Wales last year to promote literature, while the Welsh Books Council received £3.5m from the government to publish and distribute books.

Giving evidence to the assembly's culture, Welsh language and communications committee, Mr Hughes said he "wasn't surprised at the emotion that was engaged" in the response to his report's publication.

He called on Mr Skates to publish more than 800 representations his panel had received about the state of literature and publishing in Wales, and told the committee they would be "shocked" by some of those accounts of the industry.

Image caption Dawn Bowden said she is "wondering why the Welsh Government is bothering to fund" some literature organisations

Mr Hughes said he had remained silent while others had engaged in a public debate about his review's recommendations over the summer.

But he added: "I have observed a lot of arrogance over the last couple of months. I've seen very little humility."

As vice chancellor of the University of Wales Trinity St David, Mr Hughes also oversees the work of the University of Wales Press.

But he told the committee that on occasions when academic publishing was raised during the review panel's work he "relinquished the chair" and left the room.

Questioned by Labour AM Lee Waters about a perception that the panel had "carried out a clumsy hatchet job" on Literature Wales, Mr Hughes said its findings were based on the evidence it received from key organisations and the written submissions.

Fellow committee member and Labour AM Dawn Bowden said the publishing and literary industries appeared to be filled with "factions", and that her experience on the committee had left her "wondering why the Welsh government is bothering to fund some of these organisations."

The economy secretary Ken Skates is currently considering the review, and the responses of organisations affected by its recommendations.

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