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Make Wales most creative & active nation – Deputy Minister tells arts conference

The Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates, has yesterday outlined his ambitious vision to make Wales the most active and creative nation in Europe.

In a keynote address to the Arts Council of Wales’ annual conference in Cardiff’s Welsh College of Music and Drama, the Deputy Minister set out his plans for a new policy on the arts that will focus on increasing active participation, particularly from those who would not traditionally do so.

Highlighting his own experience in using arts and sports to overcome mental illness, the Deputy Minister stated how participation in the arts can give a sense of purpose, belonging and identity, which in turn can stop people from becoming disengaged with education, employment or their communities.

The Deputy Minister said that in Wales these wider outcomes and benefits will be recognised above the monetary return for investment in the arts. 

Participation will now be a fundamental requirement to reviewing the Arts Council’s funding of RFOs, with assessments based on how many active participants are engaged, the exposure given to Wales nationally and internationally and the return on investment of jobs and growth.

Speaking at the conference, the Deputy Minister said yesterday:

“Today I am calling for a change in attitude to the arts. I want to shake the image of the arts as simply entertainment reserved for a certain class and instead look at the wide-reaching benefits active participation in the arts brings and challenge prejudices and class-barriers within the sector.
“While, I am committed to seeing Welsh arts organisations continue to benefit from core funding in a way English counterparts haven’t, simply investing more in the arts is not the answer. I want to see new producers and new consumers, of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. I am determined that in Wales we will not see the decimation of the arts but rather work together to ensure the arts flourish with people not just consuming, but creating and delivering for the benefit of everyone.”
The Deputy Minister will cite Only Boys Aloud as an example of what can be achieved by the arts. The charity has engaged about 300 boys in active participation, of those around 60% were at risk of becoming NEET and costing the country an estimated £140,000 each. 

With around £50,000 in total from ACW, the charity has saved the public purse around £25million and provided Wales with enormous media exposure, as well as preventing around 200 young men from experiencing unemployment. 

The Deputy Minister added:

“I met with Tim Rhys-Evans, the founder of Only Boys Aloud, last week and was impressed by his passion for this subject and the astounding achievements of his venture. This is proof of what we can achieve. 
“I hope that all within the arts will work with us in this goal. We are already a country known for our artistic and sporting passion and I truly believe that through joint-working we can become the most active and creative nation and reap the benefits this will bring.”
The Deputy Minister also urged the sector to take advantage of emerging digital technologies and use government support to lever in extra resources – stating that this will mean the arts can not only survive, but strive for greater ambitions.

A new policy on the arts will be developed alongside wider government initiatives, such as the Physical Activity Action Plan, the Arts in Education Action Plan and the Culture and Poverty Action Plan.

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Channel website: http://gov.wales

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