Arts Council of Wales | Independent Review of Support for Publishing and Literature in Wales
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Independent Review of Support for Publishing and Literature in Wales

A statement from the Arts Council of Wales 10 Jul 2017

Independent Review of Support for Publishing and Literature in Wales

At its meeting on Friday 7 July 2017 the Arts Council of Wales considered the Welsh Government commissioned "Independent Review of Support for Publishing and Literature in Wales".

We are deeply disappointed by the quality of this report. The Welsh Government commissioned a detailed and thorough analysis of the sector. What we have instead is a report that is partial in its analysis and inconsistent in its judgement. This undermines the authority of the review panel’s conclusions.

We will be forwarding a full response to the Welsh Government. However, there are three matters that we wish to comment on here and now.

1. Significant changes are proposed to the delivery of activities currently managed by Literature Wales. We are not convinced by the suggestion that these should be transferred to the Welsh Books Council. The Books Council has many strengths, but the report contains no assessment of whether these particular changes are likely to work. This single solution is advanced with no evaluation of its benefits and no assessment of its value for money. This is a poor basis for proposing such radical change.

2. The report does not present a balanced view of the activities, achievements and competence of Literature Wales. The report chooses to present Literature Wales as an organisation teetering on the brink of crisis, unfit to receive public funding. We categorically disagree with this opinion.

Literature Wales receives significant Arts Council funding, so we naturally have a vested interest in seeing the organisation succeed. But we also have a responsibility to the Welsh taxpayer as stewards of public funds. We had provided the review panel with a careful and rounded view of our analysis of the challenges faced by Literature Wales and the progress that it was making to grow and develop activity. This was not reflected in the report.

3. We offered the Panel a number of observations on a more integrated approach to supporting the Publishing and Literature sectors. These included comments on how funding might be organised and distributed differently in the future. We were therefore dismayed to see the report suggesting that we were advocating a merging of the Arts Council and Welsh Books Council. In fact our original submission to the panel ruled out just such a suggestion.

In spite of our disappointment with the report, we believe that the Welsh Government is committed to identifying outcomes that both meet Government policy and that will deliver the greatest benefits to the many organisations and individuals who are involved in Publishing and Literature in Wales. We respect the Welsh Government’s position, and we will work positively with all relevant parties to agree practical and affordable proposals that ensure that these objectives are met.

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