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Francis: Securing a viable future for the arts in Wales

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"What are the benefits of bringing the strategic planning functions of the Arts Council of Wales under Government control? This policy was announced 14 months ago, but we still do not know.

In future, six national organisations will be in a privileged position in terms of direct access to the Minister. Those were the words of Leighton Andrews in the Culture, Welsh Language and Sport Committee a fortnight ago. They are being picked out and isolated, and that is the reality of the policy before us.

In respect of longer-term funding and building international status, what are the benefits of bringing funding under the direct control of the Minister? We do not know that either.

What is the relationship between the access issue and the six major companies? Tell us, Minister. In this morning's meeting of the Culture, Welsh Language and Sport Committee, I asked the Minister to explain his aim in reviewing the culture strategy.

Will it be a thorough review that acknowledges the parts that have previously worked well and been successful? Or is the review the creation of an access policy? You spectacularly failed to set out your stall and answer the question.

Access to the arts is important to everyone in the Chamber. We are all concerned about deprived communities.

The arts council's survey included a sample of 7,000 people, and it showed, as Owen John mentioned, that the number of adults attending arts events at least once a year has increased by 40 per cent.

Among low income groups, attendance since 1993 has increased by 51 per cent, which is double the increase in the attendance of managerial or professional groups during this period. Therefore, in what way do these figures demonstrate that access to the arts has not been at the heart of the arts council's agenda?

What has the arts council done wrong? How has it underachieved, and how is it failing to address these perceived inequalities in access and participation? How many arts council clients are not trying to widen their audience base? This Government wants to work on an evidence base, so give us the evidence and give us some facts.

There are so many questions and so little time, and that has been the problem. The Minister has created a new culture board, and he has decided to prepare a new culture strategy.

However, he has failed to properly engage with the very people who should be aiding him and have ideas for him, and whom he should support, so much so that the arts council convened an emergency meeting and wrote to the First Minister complaining about the lack of serious dialogue on the proposal to transfer six of its largest clients.

Do you think that the Minister's memorandum of understanding, in which he intends to politically enshrine the artist's right to self-expression, will effectively help the arm's-length principle? Will you explain to me how you think that will happen?"

"Beth yw manteision dwyn swyddogaethau cynllunio strategol Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru o dan reolaeth y Llywodraeth? Cyhoeddwyd y polisi hwn 14 mis yn ôl ond ni wyddom hyd yma. Yn y dyfodol, bydd chwe sefydliad cenedlaethol mewn sefyllfa freintiedig o ran cyswllt uniongyrchol â'r Gweinidog.

Dyna oedd geiriau Leighton Andrews yn y Pwyllgor Diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chwaraeon bythefnos yn ôl. Maent yn cael eu clustnodi a'u hynysu a dyna realaeth y polisi ger ein bron.

O ran ariannu tymor hwy a datblygu statws rhyngwladol, beth yw manteision dwyn y broses ariannu o dan reolaeth uniongyrchol y Gweinidog? Ni wyddom hyn ychwaith. Beth yw'r berthynas rhwng materion yn ymwneud â mynediad a'r chwe phrif gwmni? Dywedwch wrthym, Weinidog.

Yng nghyfarfod y Pwyllgor Diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chwaraeon y bore yma, gofynnais i'r Gweinidog egluro ei nod wrth adolygu'r strategaeth diwylliant.

A fydd yn adolygiad trylwyr a fydd yn cydnabod y rhannau sydd wedi gweithio'n dda yn y gorffennol a fu yn llwyddiannus? Neu a yw'r adolygiad yn broses o lunio polisi mynediad? Bu ichi fethu'n rhyfeddol i godi'ch stondin ac ateb y cwestiwn.

Mae mynediad i'r celfyddydau yn bwysig i bawb yn y Siambr. Yr ydym oll yn bryderus ynghylch cymunedau difreintiedig.

Cynhwysodd arolwg cyngor y celfyddydau sampl o 7,000 o bobl, a dangosodd, fel y crybwyllodd Owen John, i nifer yr oedolion sy'n mynychu digwyddiadau'r celfyddydau o leiaf unwaith y flwyddyn gynyddu 40 y cant. Ymhlith grwpiau incwm isel, mae'r niferoedd wedi cynyddu 51 y cant ers 1993, sef dwbl y cynnydd yn niferoedd y grwpiau rheoli neu broffesiynol, yn ystod y cyfnod hwn.

Felly, ym mha ffordd y mae'r ffigurau hyn yn dangos nad yw mynediad i'r celfyddydau wedi bod wrth wraidd agenda cyngor y celfyddydau? Beth y mae cyngor y celfyddydau wedi'i wneud o'i le? Ym mha ffordd y mae wedi tangyflawni ac ym mha ffordd y mae'n methu â mynd i'r afael â'r anghyfartaledd hwn a ganfyddir mewn mynediad a chyfranogiad?

Faint o glientiaid cyngor y celfyddydau nad ydynt yn ceisio ehangu eu cynulleidfaoedd? Mae'r Llywodraeth am weithio ar sail tystiolaeth, felly rhowch y dystiolaeth inni a rhowch ychydig ffeithiau inni.

Mae cynifer o gwestiynau a chyn lleied o amser a dyma fu'r broblem. Mae'r Gweinidog wedi creu bwrdd diwylliant newydd ac mae wedi penderfynu paratoi strategaeth diwylliant newydd.

Fodd bynnag, mae wedi methu ag ymgysylltu'n iawn â'r union bobl a ddylai fod yn rhoi cymorth iddo a chynnig syniadau iddo, pobl y dylai yntau fod yn eu cefnogi; gymaint felly fel y bu i gyngor y celfyddydau gynnull cyfarfod brys gan ysgrifennu at y Prif Weinidog i gwyno am y ffaith y bu cyn lleied o ddialog difrifol ar y cynigion i drosglwyddo chwech o'i glientiaid mwyaf.

A gredwch y bydd memorandwm dealltwriaeth y Gweinidog, lle y mae'n bwriadu diogelu'n wleidyddol hawl yr artist i fynegi ei hun, yn helpu'r egwyddor hyd braich mewn gwirionedd? A eglurwch i mi sut y credwch y bydd hynny'n digwydd?"

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