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Francis: Minister has failed the arts and Welsh language

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"The motion, as it stands, reflects the growing frustration at the Minister's incompetence and arrogance in his handling of the arts in Wales and the Welsh language.

At the start of the year, the Arts Council of Wales wrote to the Minister for Culture, Welsh Language and Sport, laying bare its concerns about his handling of the arts.

Of the Assembly's reform programme, it wrote that it had hoped to engage the Government in serious dialogue, but reported that, in 14 months, there had been none and that its proposals had been summarily rejected.

Later in the month, opposition party plans to block controversial Welsh Assembly Government reforms were subsequently backed by over 20 concerned arts organisations, which held an emergency meeting in Cardiff.

Despite the warning signs given by the arts council, the arts sector and opposition party politicians, instead of reassuring, listening and consulting, the Minister has repeatedly sought to degrade the reputation of the arts council and belittle its achievements.

This festering mess, which has been the hallmark of this Government's watch over the arts in Wales, has been entirely of his own making.

Minister, given that you never intended to reappoint the former arts council chair, you should have been discussing a timetable for appointing a successor as far back as late last summer.

However, no advertisements were placed, no procedure was started and no discussion with the arts council undertaken. Only two weeks ago, in the Culture, Welsh Language and Sport Committee meeting, you refused to reveal who you were planning to appoint as the interim chair. The lack of detail and consultation in all of this was, as usual, significant by its absence.

Your actions have caused the arts council and opposition politicians to write with their concerns to the Commissioner for Public Appointments, the Charities Commission and the Wales Audit Office, and we will probably never know how many arts council members were approached to take the interim chair and how many were asked to do so in an ad hoc and irregular fashion before the current appointee accepted the post.

Insofar as the Welsh language is concerned, following the debate of last October, we are still in the dark as to the future position of the Welsh Language Board and the matter of the dyfarnydd, except to say that your special advisers consider that the Welsh Language Board is in its death throes and that no-one voted for it.

We still have not received any proper explanation about what prompted that particular outburst. Such ignorant and unchecked comments do nothing to give us confidence that you have no intention of politicising the Welsh language in the future.

Last week, Minister, you said that opposition parties were fixated with process and personalities. It may sound obvious but process and personalities are a large part of what your portfolio is all about.

Yet, you have wreaked havoc and chaos with the process and alienated the personalities who, ironically, have all become positively united in their opposition to your extraordinary behaviour and ill-thought actions.

Today, the important people—those outside of the Chamber—demand to know how it can be possible for someone to be in charge of so much and yet accountable for so very little."

"Mae'r cynnig, fel y saif ar hyn o bryd, yn adlewyrchu'r rhwystredigaeth gynyddol ynglyn ag anghymwyster a thrahauster y Gweinidog wrth ymdrin â'r celfyddydau yng Nghymru a'r iaith Gymraeg.

Ar ddechrau'r flwyddyn, ysgrifennodd Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru i'r Gweinidog dros Ddiwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chwaraeon, yn nodi'n glir ei bryderon ynglyn â'r ffordd yr oedd yn ymdrin â'r celfyddydau.

O ran rhaglen ddiwygio'r Cynulliad, nododd ei fod wedi gobeithio cynnal trafodaethau difrifol gyda'r Llywodraeth, ond nododd na chafwyd unrhyw drafodaethau mewn 14 mis a bod ei gynigion wedi'u gwrthod yn ddiseremoni.

Yn ddiweddarach yn ystod y mis, cafwyd cefnogaeth dros 20 o sefydliadau celfyddydau pryderus, a drefnodd gyfarfod brys yng Nghaerdydd, i gynlluniau'r gwrthbleidiau i rwystro diwygiadau dadleuol Llywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru.

Er gwaetha'r rhybuddion a roddwyd gan gyngor y celfyddydau, sector y celfyddydau a gwleidyddion y gwrthbleidiau, yn hytrach na rhoi sicrwydd, gwrando ac ymgynghori, mae'r Gweinidog wedi ceisio droeon i ddiraddio enw da cyngor y celfyddydau a bychanu ei gyflawniadau. Y Gweinidog ei hun sy'n gyfrifol am y llanastr hwn, a fu'n gynrychioliadol o'r ffordd y mae'r Llywodraeth hon wedi goruchwylio'r celfyddydau yng Nghymru.

Weinidog, o gofio nad oedd yn fwriad gennych ailbenodi cyn gadeirydd cyngor y celfyddydau, dylech fod wedi trafod amserlen ar gyfer penodi olynydd cyn belled yn ôl â diwedd yr haf y llynedd.

Fodd bynnag, ni chyhoeddwyd unrhyw hysbysebion, ni roddwyd unrhyw weithdrefn ar waith ac ni chafwyd unrhyw drafodaeth gyda chyngor y celfyddydau. Dim ond pythefnos yn ôl, yng nghyfarfod y Pwyllgor Diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chwaraeon, bu ichi wrthod datgelu pwy yr ydych yn bwriadu ei benodi fel cadeirydd dros dro.

Yn ôl yr arfer, yr oedd y diffyg manylion a'r diffyg ymgynghori yn hyn o beth yn arwyddocaol yn y ffaith eu bod yn absennol.

Mae eich gweithredoedd wedi achosi i gyngor y celfyddydau a gwleidyddion y gwrthbleidiau ysgrifennu gyda'u pryderon at y Comisiynydd Penodiadau Cyhoeddus, y Comisiwn Elusennau a Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru, ac ni fyddwn byth yn gwybod sawl un o aelodau cyngor y celfyddydau y gofynnwyd iddynt fod yn gadeirydd dros dro a sawl un y gofynnwyd iddynt wneud hynny mewn ffordd ad hoc ac afreolaidd cyn i'r penodai presennol dderbyn y swydd.

O ran yr iaith Gymraeg, yn dilyn y ddadl fis Hydref diwethaf, yr ydym yn dal i aros am wybodaeth ynglyn â dyfodol Bwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg a mater y dyfarnydd, ac eithrio'r ffaith bod eich cynghorwyr arbennig o'r farn bod Bwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg ar ei wely angau ac ni wnaeth unrhyw un bleidleisio amdano.

Yr ydym yn dal i aros am esboniad priodol ynglyn â'r hyn a ysgogodd y ffrwydrad penodol hwnnw. Nid yw sylwadau mor anwybodus a diofal yn gwneud dim i'n sicrhau nad oes gennych unrhyw fwriad o wleidyddoli'r iaith Gymraeg yn y dyfodol.

Yr wythnos diwethaf, Weinidog, dywedasoch fod gan y gwrthbleidiau obsesiwn gyda phroses a phersonoliaethau. Efallai fod hyn yn swnio'n bwynt amlwg, ond mae proses a phersonoliaethau yn rhan fawr o'ch portffolio.

Eto, yr ydych wedi creu llanast ac anhrefn gyda'r broses ac wedi dieithrio'r personoliaethau sydd, yn eironig, wedi uno'n gadarnhaol o ran eu gwrthwynebiad i'ch ymddygiad anhygoel a'ch gweithredoedd difeddwl.

Heddiw, mae'r bobl bwysig—y rheini y tu allan i'r Siambr—yn galw am gael gwybod sut y gall rhywun fod yn gyfrifol am gymaint ac eto fod yn atebol am gyn lleied."

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