Here is the letter we sent to Arts Council Wales today:
Re: Outcome of the 2023 Arts Council Wales (ACW) Investment Review
Annwyl Dafydd / Dear Dafydd,
We have considered your correspondence on 27 September outlining ACWs’ decision not to offer National Theatre Wales multi-year funding. Having reflected on this decision, we now provide notice that we will be lodging an appeal. We recognise that the nature of that appeal cannot be discussed outside of that process. We do, however, feel that there are urgent conversations that we must engage in together, while the appeals process runs its course.
We welcome ACW’s proposed review of English language theatre provision in Wales. However, we challenge the decision to dismantle Wales’ English language national theatre before this review takes place.
Arts Council Wales has invested 15 years of funding in us. As a charity, we’ve used that support to generate an additional £11 million worth of investment into theatre in Wales. Our model means that this investment has gone into people, into communities across north, south, mid and west Wales, into productions, into growing networks, skills, relationships, confidence and careers, into the very ability to bring together diverse perspectives and experiences that a meaningful theatre review will require.
Since your appointment to the role of Chief Executive, you have talked powerfully and persuasively about the need for Arts Council Wales and arts organisations to work in deep partnership, to share both our aspirations and our challenges. ACW knows the difficulties we have faced, the considerable progress we have made over the past year and, as ACW acknowledged in response to our submission, our “positive plans” and our “potential”.
We share with ACW the responsibility to look after the cultural asset that is National Theatre Wales for the 331,328 live and 8.2 million online and television broadcast audience members who have benefited since 2008.
In cutting our annual funding, Wales will lose one of its largest employers of theatre makers - we employed 645 people last year alone. This decision will jeopardise the skills and career development of our finest actors, directors, writers, designers and production staff. Many of those we’ve supported now sit at the helm of the organisations that ACW funds. It will sever this invaluable pipeline of skills, which also feeds Wales’ flourishing television and film industry.
This decision will pull apart TEAM, our decade-long, community-based, ground-breaking model of arts engagement, which we’ve co-created with 104,000 people throughout Wales, with countless schools, with young people outside of mainstream education, with community arts organisations and local charities, with health boards and with individuals who never imagined that the arts could be for them. No other arts organisation in Wales has democratised the decision-making of a national organisation as we have done with NTWs’ TEAM Panel, made up of community leaders, creatives, activists and educators, embodying a diversity truly representative of contemporary Wales, and serving as an accessible gateway into the arts. Our collaborations with major international partners and grass roots organisations, through which we put locally rooted stories of Wales onto a global stage, will be abruptly ended. Theatres across Wales which ACW funds will have even fewer shows to invite their audiences to.
If this funding decision stands, Wales will lose National Theatre Wales in 6 months’ time. If lost, it will not be easily or affordably replaced.
In light of all of this, we seek constructive conversation with you and your colleagues at the earliest opportunity to examine the possibility of an interim position for National Theatre Wales while the review takes place. We believe that a solution can be found that allows National Theatre Wales to continue to operate – honouring our commitments to communities, theatre makers and other partners and leveraging another £500,000 into Welsh theatre from other funders this year – while we contribute to the future vision of theatre in Wales.
Diolch yn fawr.
Lorne Campbell, Artistic Director
Sharon Gilburd, Co-Chair
Yvonne Connikie, Co-Chair