Welsh government report looks at cultural provision to poorest areas

Report recommends board to connect cultural policy across government
Patrick Steel
A report commissioned by the Welsh government looking at how social justice can be promoted through arts, culture and heritage, has recommended the establishment of a cultural and social inclusion board to connect cultural policy across government and inform thinking across the sector.

Culture and Poverty, written by Kay Andrews, also makes a number of other recommendations, including establishing a government group to identify ways to transport people from disadvantaged areas to cultural sites; making museums more community and child-friendly; exploring co-location with other community services to transform museums into community hubs; reinforcing cultural activity within and outside the classroom; and developing consistent key performance indicators for the sector.

The report recommends a learning network for cultural organisations to share knowledge and good practice, and an information network for funders to identify shared strategic priorities and incentivise joint working through conditional funding.

David Anderson, director of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, said: “I think it is a very rational set of proposals. Up to now lots of organisations have been trying to work in this direction, and this report provides a national framework for that.

“Local participation in culture is the key, and if that is not working then many children will have little or no opportunity to have a cultural experience. In policy terms this is very ambitious, and has to include both local and national organisations. The setting up of the cultural and social inclusion board is essential to have a national, regional and local grouping.”

Rachael Rogers, president of the Welsh Museums Federation, said the federation’s feeling was that another government board would be important only if it really would ensure that “all cultural bodies were singing from the same hymn sheet”.

The report indicates some additional funding will be necessary to fulfil its recommendations.

A spokesman for the Welsh government said: “The report makes clear that much can be achieved through closer collaboration, pooling of expertise, and, in some cases, resources, and aligning existing funding streams.

“We will be considering resourcing implications as we develop the detailed delivery plan.”

The Welsh government will publish a detailed response and action plan in July 2014, in parallel with its response to Dai Smith’s report last September looking at arts in education in Wales.

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