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Bourne: Labour must consult on arts reform

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"When the Minister opened this debate, I agreed with him when he described this as being about process. It is about process. The Minister then went on to suggest that that did not matter. The amendment is not about investment in the arts, it is about the contempt with which the Welsh arts community has been treated over the last few months, which I find astounding.

I happen to think that that is extremely important. It is a crucial issue—breaching the arm's-length principle, risking politicisation, effectively sacking the arts council chair, who is widely respected, admired and liked throughout the sector in Wales, is not the way to engage in partnership and collaborative working, which I thought and understood was meant to be the hallmark of this Government.

Indeed, the arts community has been alienated by this Minister, let there be no doubt of that. He is a serial offender, as he has been pretty offensive to the Welsh Language Board. He only has the sports council to go and then he has the set.

I believe that no-one would deny that expanding access to the arts is of central importance. I know that Geraint Talfan Davies thinks that it is. However, the reason given is not borne out by the facts, which is the problem that I have with the Minister.

On the access agenda, if you look at the figures, which have been quoted accurately, the gaps between those accessing the arts from the lower income groups and from the higher income groups has been narrowing significantly. That is why I cannot accept the reason given as being the true reason.

I have just indicated to you, and you have not countered it, that access to the arts from those socio-economic groups lower in the scale has increased more, in proportion, than from other groups. That is to be welcomed. I did not hear the Minister say that or congratulate the arts council on that.

I think that there is a great danger in these six organisations being directly funded by the Minister—I am concerned that the six organisations will be in a privileged position now in terms of their direct access to the Minister. It so happens that those are not my words, but those of the only Labour Member who is not here at the moment, Leighton Andrews.

He had the courage to express that view, and I am sure that he stands by those words and that he has no agenda. I am sure that that is just the belief of someone who is not in the opposition parties. Let there be no doubt that this is not just the view of opposition parties, but the view of others, and of arts organisations throughout Wales.

Therefore, there are serious issues here. There are issues of process that have to be properly addressed. The Minister has lost the confidence of the arts community in Wales. That is the truth of it, and that is the important issue. It is not about investment; it is about moving the arts forward. We were doing that with Geraint Talfan Davies, and powerfully.

Whatever the political complexion of a Government, I would much rather trust the arm's-length principle than any Minister—this is not directed at Alun Pugh, but any Minister. I think that it is wrong that the arts should be guided by a Minister; they should be guided at arm's length by an effective arts council, which is what we had in Wales until recently."

"Pan agorodd y Gweinidog y ddadl hon, cytunais ag ef pan nododd fod a wnelo hyn â phroses. Mae'n wir bod a wnelo â phroses. Aeth y Gweinidog ymlaen wedyn i awgrymu nad oedd hynny'n bwysig. Nid oes a wnelo'r gwelliant â buddsoddiad yn y celfyddydau, mae a wnelo â'r dirmyg a ddangoswyd i gymuned y celfyddydau yng Nghymru yn ystod yr ychydig fisoedd diwethaf, a chredaf fod hynny'n syfrdanol.

Yr wyf yn digwydd meddwl bod hynny'n bwysig iawn. Mae'n fater hanfodol—nid yw torri'r egwyddor hyd braich, peri'r risg o wleidyddoli, diswyddo cadeirydd cyngor y celfyddydau i bob diben, y mae llawer o bobl yn ei barchu, ei edmygu a'i hoffi drwy gydol y sector yng Nghymru, yn ffordd o weithio mewn partneriaeth a chydweithredu, ond yr oeddwn yn credu ac yn deall bod hynny i fod yn nodweddiadol o'r Llywodraeth hon.

Yn wir, mae'r Gweinidog hwn wedi tramgwyddo cymuned y celfyddydau, yn ddi-au. Mae wedi pechu sawl gwaith, oherwydd bu'n eithaf sarhaus wrth Fwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg. Dim ond y cyngor chwaraeon sydd ganddo i'w ddigio ac wedyn bydd wedi tramgwyddo pawb.

Credaf na fyddai neb yn gwadu ei bod yn hollbwysig ehangu mynediad i'r celfyddydau. Gwn fod Geraint Talfan Davies o'r farn honno. Fodd bynnag, ni chaiff y rheswm a roddir ei gyfiawnhau gan y ffeithiau, sef y broblem sydd gennyf o ran y Gweinidog.

O ran yr agenda mynediad, os edrychwch ar y ffigurau, sydd wedi'u dyfynnu'n gywir, mae'r blychau rhwng y rhai sy'n manteisio ar y celfyddydau o'r grwpiau incwm is ac o'r grwpiau incwm uwch wedi bod yn lleihau'n sylweddol. Dyna pam na allaf dderbyn mai'r rheswm a roddir yw'r rheswm gwirioneddol.

Yr wyf newydd ddweud wrthych, ac nid ydych wedi gwrthwynebu hynny, bod mynediad i'r celfyddydau gan y grwpiau economaidd-gymdeithasol hynny sy'n is ar y raddfa wedi cynyddu mwy, o ran cyfran, na chan grwpiau eraill. Dylid croesawu hynny.

Ni chlywais y Gweinidog yn dweud hynny nac yn llongyfarch cyngor y celfyddydau ar hynny. Credaf fod perygl mawr os caiff y chwe sefydliad hyn eu hariannu'n uniongyrchol gan y Gweinidog—yr wyf yn pryderu y bydd y chwe sefydliad bellach mewn sefyllfa freintiedig o ran eu mynediad uniongyrchol i'r Gweinidog.

Fel y mae'n digwydd, nid fy ngeiriau i yw'r rheini, ond geiriau'r unig Aelod Llafur nad yw yma ar hyn o bryd, Leighton Andrews. Yr oedd yn ddigon ddewr i leisio'r farn honno, ac yr wyf yn siwr ei bod yn glynu wrth y geiriau hynny ac nad oes ganddo unrhyw agenda.

Yr wyf yn siwr bod rhywun nad yw'n aelod o'r gwrthbleidiau yn credu hynny. Yn ddi-au, nid dim ond barn y gwrthbleidiau ydyw, ond barn pobl eraill, a barn sefydliadau'r celfyddydau ledled Cymru. Felly, mae materion difrifol i'w hystyried yma.

Mae materion o ran proses y mae'n rhaid ymdrin â hwy yn briodol. Nid oes gan gymuned y celfyddydau yng Nghymru hyder yn y Gweinidog mwyach. Dyna'r gwirionedd, a dyna'r mater pwysig. Nid oes a wnelo hyn â buddsoddi; mae a wnelo â datblygu'r celfyddydau. Yr oeddem yn gwneud hynny ar y cyd â Geraint Talfan Davies, ac mewn ffordd bwerus.

Beth bynnag fo tueddfryd gwleidyddol Llywodraeth, byddai'n well gennyf ymddiried yn yr egwyddor hyd braich nag mewn unrhyw Weinidog—nid yw hyn wedi'i anelu at Alun Pugh, ond unrhyw Weinidog. Credaf ei bod yn amhriodol mai Gweinidog sy'n arwain y celfyddydau; dylai cyngor effeithiol y celfyddydau eu harwain ar hyd braich, sef yr hyn a ddigwyddodd yng Nghymru tan yn ddiweddar."

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