Creative Crossroads: Sustainability and Well-being in Wales’ Creative Sector

Credit Chillee Noir / A picture of Welsh band The Honest Poet Society

This paper reports on an event organised by the Institute of Welsh Affairs with support from Creative Wales at the Millennium Centre, in Cardiff, on 7 November 2023.

The cover of Creative Crossroads, a report by the IWATitled Creative Crossroads: Well-being & Sustainability in the Creative Industries, the event explored the challenges of funding, persisting precariousness, and sustainability in the creative sector in Wales. It was organised to coincide with the launch of a Memorandum of Understanding between Creative Wales and the Arts Council of Wales, which articulated areas of collaboration between the two organisations.

The creative and cultural sector, the creative economy or the creative industries – regardless of the name used to label them – remain a key part of the UK economy and, in the last few years, have been hailed a Welsh success story, with a reported turnover of ‘£1.7 billion in 2021, an increase of 14% from 2017’. Yet, the impressive success of a number of film production companies in generating local employment opportunities while enhancing Wales’ worldwide visibility is in sharp contrast to the challenges faced by other sectors in a sector highly reliant on freelance labour. Discussions highlighted that, often, the instability of working teams and the individual nature of freelance careers places the industry in the paradoxical position of incubating the most innovative ideas, while being at risk of replicating old structures of inequality.

‘Not only does the sector generate material and symbolic benefits for Wales, it also, as seen from the examples of sustainability coordinators and well-being facilitators, incubate innovative solutions.’

This report starts and ends with the crucial importance of funding the creative sector adequately. If funding is to remain one of the core foundations of creativity, it needs to reflect the needs of the people it purports to serve.

The IWA makes the following recommendations on the basis of this event:

  • Welsh Government should continue to support and expand the well-being facilitator scheme.
  • The Arts Council of Wales, Creative Wales, and relevant funding bodies should direct efforts at funding capacity and well-being, by making funding available for networks of care and collectives.
  • Funding bodies should aim at reforming funding in order to make it more accessible, by deemphasising outputs.
  • The Arts Council of Wales and Creative Wales should coordinate the creation of a one-stop cultural freelancers’ directory, listing freelancers in the creative sector in Wales.
  • Welsh Government should set up a pan-Wales funders’ directory, listing available sources of funding for cultural freelancers.

You can read the full report here in English, or in Welsh here.

Supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust

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