The Arad Report: The value and impact of Wales’ presence at the Venice Biennale for the visual arts sector in Wales.
What is Wales in Venice?
Arts Council of Wales has commissioned artists to present at Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice as a Collateral Event at the Venice Biennale since 2003, celebrating the best of emerging and established artists from Wales. Artists presented since 2009 include Helen Sear, Bedwyr Williams, Tim Davies and John Cale.
Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice is commissioned and managed by Arts Council of Wales and Wales Arts International, with support and collaboration from the Welsh Government and British Council.
Why is Wales in Venice important?
Wales' presence at the Venice Biennale gives a platform for visual art from Wales on the world’s most prestigious international stage. Benefits and opportunities are set to reflect back into Wales through the strategic commissioning of Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice exhibition and related programmes; including Invigilator Plus, Travel Bursaries provided by Wales Arts International, educational resources as well as talks, events, links, and where appropriate, a re-staging of the exhibition produced for the Biennale back in Wales or in other touring formats in the UK or internationally.
The rationale for presenting in Venice and what we seek to achieve is reflected in the partnerships aims:
- Present the most exciting and creative artists associated with Wales.
- Focus international and national attention on the diverse range of critically valued work in, from and to do with Wales.
- Create international experiences and connections for galleries, curators and artists that will develop the visuals arts in Wales.
- Celebrate Wales in the World as dynamic, culturally engaged and forward-looking.
Each project, which is selected by a call for proposals, is overseen by an Advisory Committee of the Arts Council of Wales. This is chaired by a member of Council, with officer and National Adviser membership and members from Amgueddfa Cymru National Museum Wales and Artes Mundi.
A previous research evaluation International Impact Study: Visual Arts Activity in Wales, conducted in 2008 provided a useful set of recommendations for international working in the sector, including Wales’ presence at the Venice Biennale.
Why publish this report?
The continuing development of the sector, the opportunity, challenges and legacy that the Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice presents and an economic climate where public funding is under severe pressure provided the context for the report.
With a focus on the value and impact of Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice, this report was tasked to assess if and how Arts Council’s investment of strategic funds since 2009 has provided impact and value for the visual arts sector at all levels and how this can be further improved, developed and sustained.
Council received the report from Arad in its February meeting and on the evidence of the report affirmed its strategic commitment to further presentations of Wales’s contemporary visual art in the context of the Venice Biennale. The Council particularly welcomed the report’s evidence of how the whole project in all its aspects was providing a developmental vehicle for the sector. Council particularly emphasised the importance of the visibility of the project back in Wales and the need to embed this more. The Executive Summary is available here and the full report is available on request
Cymru yn Fenis - Wales in Venice: Executive Summary, March 2016