ArtWorks Cymru 2014 Conference – Session 1

Date: 11/23/2014 | Category: Resources

Beth ydyn ni'n ei wybod? Beth allwn ni amau? Beth sy'n ein rhwystro? Pam fod angen i ni gael yr atebion?

Dyma'r adborth o'r sesiwn drafod gyntaf yng Nghynhadledd ArtWorks Cymru. 

What do we know? What can we suspect? What’s stopping us? What do we need to find out?

Here is the feedback from the first discussion session of the ArtWorks Cymru Conference. Each group around the tables discussed the following questions:

What do we know?

  • Our political and cultural landscape is a challenging environment.
  • Arts are undervalued and we are therefore under threat of cuts by local authorities.
  • We have been generating and bringing in more income as a sector – how do we sustain this?
  • There is a huge skill pool.
  • The distance travelled may be more productive in participatory context.
  • Within our field, context is important, and we must be adaptable to changes in context.
  • We need to learn how to advocate our practice to the public.
  • The outcomes of our work are complex – articulation of benefits is complex and difficult to translate onto paper due to quantity (and complexity).

Cuts and capacity

  • Arts and culture departments in colleges are being cut and are under threat – capital versus quality / staffing.
  • There is a threat to longevity of practice: capacity issues.


  • There is a lack of funding.
  • Short termism of funding.
  • We need to learn to advocate our practice to funders.

Trust and communication

  • Trust is necessary from all parties involved.
  • This conference expands our network and is an opportunity to share

Skill sets, collaboration and partnerships

  • Collaboration is about finding the right partner.
  • Collaboration is key – are we good at it?
  • There has been an increase in cross-sector working (health and social care).
  • Huge skill pool
  • Different artists needed for different projects
  • Buy in from partners helps to evidence success.
  • Do we need a central database of artists in Wales?


  • Great art is not easily definable and may not be a productive criteria
  • we need a general consensus of values to ensure quality.
  • Fee consensus to value quality and specialism needed?


  • Networks in Wales are small – which is both positive and negative
  • Language is important
  • Geographical patchy across Wales
  • Demographically patchy, too
  • Art form specific patchiness – people who can facilitate dance through Welsh (people need to believe that they have vocabulary)

What do we suspect?

  • Arts funding will continue to be cut.
  • Grass routes are under threat from corporate companies – they will be taking over local authority run theatres.
  • Ecology of the theatre – where are the artists of the future going to come from now?
  • Missing talent due to lack of clear pathways
  • Lack of publicity / showcasing successes
  • Lack of Welsh speakers who specialise in community work
  • Lack of awareness for participatory arts and recognition for it as a career – peer to peer in HE/FE to raise profile?
  • Is there enough work for artists in Wales? Diversification – package your work
  • Business models – generate income streams
  • Must be able to build in your own area
  • Participatory arts is viewed as secondary
  • Change will come from gatherings like this
  • We haven’t helped each other enough
  • Quality comes in all shapes and sizes

What’s stopping us?

  • Rural versus urban disparity.
  • Education facilities lacking resources to inspire.
  • Equality of opportunity for young people in rural areas.
  • Even urban youth theatres are being cut.
  • Cuts mean that people are leaving Wales and moving to London / Bristol.
  • The lack of a shared understanding between the value of results-based outcomes and process.
  • Projects get skewed because of funding streams
  • Excellence versus participation.
  • Inflexibilities within organisations.
  • Lack of knowledge of opportunities
  • Need to acknowledge that art is an income stream of artists as a sector.
  • Jargon and no shared language
  • Lack of shared learning and territorialism
  • Lack of understanding
  • How do you measure creativity?
  • Different worlds – different agendas
  • Cultural differences
  • Time – taken up by grants and direct work so less time for making connections.
  • To collaborate, need face to face – not resolved electronically – geography
  • Difficult recruiting consistent staffing – e g pool of freelancers
  • Access to info – specialisms, expertise
  • Go and see! – not only your own work!
  • Artists need to be aware of how to communicate about their work
  • Facilitators / national coordinators needed

What do we need to find out?

  • Accreditation versus benchmarking. – How do we approach this?
  • How do we get a national that is supportive of new, flexible artists?
  • How to access funds and pay ourselves.
  • How are young people / participants gaining understanding of participatory arts in general and how can we engage them?
  • How do we achieve transparency?
  • Where do we store the central database?
  • Where are the emerging artists?
  • What are the rates of pay for artists across Wales?
  • How Welsh language can be used in a more informal way in participatory settings
  • How can we avoid the ghettoisation of languages?
  • How can we break down barriers?
  • How do we live with short termism? What are out ethical responsibilities?
  • How do we embed our practice and become more holistic?
  • How do we provide training not just for artists but also for teachers and youth workers?
  • How do we cut through politics / effects of political landscape to make more human / find common ground?
  • How do we give political context to participants?
  • How to “let go” of control.
  • What defines excellence? Strategies to maintain long-term projects (non goal-based)
  • Who’s on the same page?