Funding for Major Welsh Arts Organizations to Be Administered Directly by Government

Classic Arts News   Funding for Major Welsh Arts Organizations to Be Administered Directly by Government
Rhodri Morgan, First Minister of Wales, announced on November 30 that funding decisions made by a number of independent bodies, including the Arts Council of Wales, will now be made directly by the Welsh Assembly Government, the London Times reports.

From now on, funding for major arts organizations, including Welsh National Opera, the National Orchestra, and Clwyd Theatr, as well as the country's principal dance and literary organizations, will be determined by the government.

Morgan said that a Culture Board would be responsible for the coordination of funding, in order to create "clearer democratic accountability for the public money we spend in Wales."

According to the Times, Andrew Davies, Wales' minister for economic development, promised a "bonfire of the quangos" earlier this year, and added that the Arts Council of Wales would be the kindling.

This is a sharp turn away from previous thinking about arts funding in the U.K., where decisions about arts funding have been made by experts, based on artistic excellence, rather than by politicians, based on accountability.

In an angry response, Kevin Morgan, a professor at Cardiff University, described the change in policy as "taken in conditions of secrecy more appropriate to a John Le Carr_ novel."

Among the quangos: nominally independent bodies reliant on government funding: being either stripped of their power or absorbed into the government are the Welsh Language Board, the Ancient Monuments Board, the Historic Buildings Council, and the Wales Tourist Board.

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