Tag: National Assembly for Wales

Securing a Future for Art in Wales

Guest blog by Bethan Sayed AM, Chair of the Assembly’s Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee

Performance art in Cardiff

In the past ten years, Welsh Government and National Lottery funding for the Arts Council of Wales has fallen by almost 10% in real terms, while the Government has called on the sector to reduce its dependence on public expenditure.

As Chair of the Assembly’s Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee and as a Committee, I felt the time was right to hold an inquiry into non-public funding of the arts to determine how feasible the Government’s call is, and to identify practical steps to enable the sector to respond effectively to it.

Art needs funding to support its future, but what can be done to secure it?

The importance of art to a healthy society

The importance of art to society is undeniable.

Art illuminates and enriches our lives, which makes it indispensable to a healthy society. The wide-ranging benefits of art to both society on the whole, and the individual, are now widely recognised. From its economic impact to the benefits it brings to education – the potential for art to enable positive outcomes within society should be recognised, promoted and utilised fully by policy makers.

Recognising the challenges faced by the arts in Wales

What became evident very quickly during the inquiry was that arts organisations in Wales face unique, diverse and very difficult challenges when attempting to raise non-public funding. For example, the small size of many of Wales’s arts organisations, and their distance from large centres of population, make raising non-public revenue difficult.

In particular, the dominance of London and the south east of England, in terms of the proportion of non-public funding awarded within the UK, is startling.

A 2013 study found that contributions made by individuals and businesses to the arts in London accounted for 85% of the overall funding awarded throughout England.  Although Wales was not covered by the study, it’s not thought to be out of sync with the regions of England outside of London.

Until such a disproportionate reality is recognised and addressed it’s impossible to see how the situation in Wales can be adequately improved.

This situation is also compounded by the fact that scale and location are key factors in enabling generation of commercial revenue, making it more difficult for organisations to raise revenue outside of large centres of population.

These distinctly Welsh difficulties illustrate the need for the Welsh Government to back up what they have asked the sector to do with a sufficient level of effective support.

Performance art group

What has the Committee concluded?

We have called on the Government to take action to raise the profile of the arts as a charitable cause and to raise awareness among UK-based trusts and foundations of the excellent arts projects and organisations in Wales.

As it stands, the sector does not have the resources necessary to respond effectively to the Government’s call. A shortage of appropriate skills within the sector was a common theme presented throughout the evidence. This is why we have called on the Welsh Government to establish a source of fundraising expertise for small arts organisations, in an analogous fashion to the support it currently provides for small businesses through its Business Wales service.

As might be expected, we found that larger organisations are more likely to be effective when applying for grants as they have easier access to appropriate skills (for example, to write effective applications). When such a small proportion of the funding available within the UK is awarded outside of London and the south east it’s understandable that competition for the remaining funding is fierce.

In such a climate it’s then little surprise that smaller organisations struggle to compete.

This serves to underline the need for a tailored form of support, one which recognises the differing needs and capabilities of arts organisations throughout Wales.

This is not to say that those within the sector shouldn’t explore every opportunity to increase their non-public income. We also received evidence suggesting that Welsh arts organisations could be more proactive in their approach to applying for funding.

We were excited to hear about the impact of the Welsh Government’s trade mission to China, which included a cultural delegation organised by Wales Arts International. Hijinx, a theatre company that works with learning disabled actors, told us that this trip had opened doors to future international tours and collaboration. This is why we have called for the Welsh Government to commission research on international markets with growth potential for Welsh artists, and, where possible, to include a cultural component on trade missions, alongside a strategy to grow international markets.

What is clear is that if the Welsh Government expect their call for the arts sector to reduce its dependence on public funding to have a tangible impact within the sector – they need to back it up with an appropriate level of tailored and informed support.

You can read the full report and the Committee’s recommendations here.

Follow the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee on Twitter @SeneddCWLC

Celebrating the Assembly’s Commitment to Sustainability for Earth Hour

‘Make a promise for the planet’ is the theme for this year’s Earth Hour, which will take place on Saturday 24 March between 20:30 and 21:30. The Assembly will be taking part in this year’s Earth Hour by switching off the lights in the Senedd, Ty Hywel and Pierhead buildings. Many of our AMs have also made the pledge to the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) to support the campaign.

Sustainability is important to us at the Assembly, and we’ve made it our responsibility to reduce our impact on the environment and operate in an environmentally responsible manner in all our activities. Read more about how we’re striving to operate a sustainable Assembly now and in the future.

How we ensure a sustainable Senedd

Heating

Geothermal heating is used to help warm the Senedd.  Water is pumped down 100 meters through 27 bore holes and heated naturally by the earth’s temperature. The water is then pumped back up to help warm the water in our heating system.  This process is supported by a biomass boiler which uses sustainably-sourced timber from around the UK to provide a relatively carbon-neutral fuel source.

During the warmer months the process is reversed. When the water is pumped down the heat is dispersed underground as the earth acts like a heat sink. The cooler water is then pumped back up acting as a coolant for the building.

Rainwater harvesting

The Senedd’s rainwater harvesting system is used in the washrooms and for cleaning the building. This works so well that the building only needs to be supplied with around £40 worth of mains water a month.

Rain water which falls onto the Senedd roof is channelled towards the front of the building, through two pipes and into a tank where it is then filtered through ultra violet (UV) lights. This water is then reused for flushing toilets and washing windows.

You can find more information about our sustainable practices here.

Pledging to reduce plastic use

On 1 October 2011 Wales became the first country in the UK to introduce a requirement to charge on most single-use carrier bags. The reduction in the use of plastics is an important global issue and the Assembly is committed to reducing its use of plastics. We are already making great headway with this, and have already eliminated our use of plastic coffee cups on the Assembly Estate, whilst committing to getting rid of other disposable plastics over the next 6 months wherever possible.

Senedd sustainability takeaways

  • The Senedd was awarded the BREEAM Excellent standard for its environmental credentials at design stage.
  • The Senedd is heated by a combination of ground-source heat pump and sustainably-sourced wood chip, with gas for back-up.
  • The Senedd’s ground-source heat pump includes 27 boreholes drilled 100m into the ground- they allow us to extract some warmth at the end of the summer, and reverse the process to help cool the building in the spring.
  • Rainwater harvesting means the Senedd only needs about £40 worth of mains water to be bought in each month.
  • Operation of the biomass heating system has saved more than 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions being produced since the Senedd was built.
  • The Senedd is naturally-ventilated; the windows open themselves to change the air temperature or provide more oxygen to the rooms.
  • The Senedd’s roof cowl creates a negative air pressure- allowing fresh air to be drawn up through the building- reducing the need for any artificial cooling during warmer months.
  • Replacing a lot of the Senedd’s lights with LEDs in recent years has saved more than 50 tonnes of CO2 being produced.
  • The large amount of glazing and reflective surfaces cuts down on the need for artificial light in the Senedd. Look up when you visit the Neuadd or Oriel areas and you may well see the lights are off during the daytime.
We’ve got rid of disposable coffee cups, and are using renewable energy sources including biomass, a ground-source heat pump, and shortly switching to green tariff electricity.
We are installing electric vehicle charging points this week, and exploring the possibility of an electric pool car.
We have committed to phasing out disposable plastic wherever possible over the next 6 months, and compost all our food waste, including that from events.

Join the conversation this Earth Hour using #EarthHourWales and keep an eye out for the global switch-off at 8.30pm on Saturday 24 March.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the environmental aspects of the Assembly’s work, visit the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee pages or follow the Committee on Twitter @SeneddCCERA.

5 Reasons to Visit the Senedd This Weekend

Looking for something to do this weekend? Why not head to Cardiff Bay to visit the Senedd? It’s the last weekend to experience Poppies: Weeping Window, which will leave Cardiff on the 24th September. Get out and about this weekend and take a look at our five reasons to explore the Senedd this weekend.

1. Poppies: Weeping Window

Poppies: Weeping Window has been a sweeping summer highlight in Cardiff Bay, attracting thousands of visitors since it launched on the 8 August. The sculpture, by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper, is presented by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War Centenary. The Senedd is the only part of the Poppies Tour where you can experience the sculpture from the inside and the outside, and there is a fantastic supporting exhibition inside the Senedd to learn more about it. The sculpture will be available to view until Sunday, before the sculpture moves to Ulster Museum, Belfast.

2. Women, War, Peace

This exhibition explores the impact of war on women across the world in the hundred years since the First World War. It is a collaboration between the renowned photojournalist, Lee Karen Stow, and the Wales for Peace project. It includes the work of some 300 volunteers from across Wales who in the last two years have been exploring the core question of the Wales for Peace project:

“In the hundred years since the First World War, how has Wales contributed to the search for peace?”

3. The Cardiff Camera Club Annual Exhibition

The Cardiff Camera Club annual exhibition is on show in the Pierhead building until 27 September, a celebration of local amateur photographer talent. It features a wide range of prints taken locally, nationally and internationally, many of which have been successful in competitions, salons and exhibitions. The exhibition should be of interest to all visitors to Cardiff Bay and, hopefully, will inspire many to make even more of their cameras and in this era of digital photography.

4. Take part in the Senedd Trail

Looking for some fun children’s activities to enjoy this weekend? Let them have a go at winning a prize! Explore the Senedd and collect the clues – and find out lots of interesting facts about the building and the National Assembly along the way! Collect a trail card from the Arts and Craft corner, and hand in your completed card at Reception.

5. Enjoy coffee and a cake in the Senedd café

A day of exploring the Bay calls for coffee and cake in the Senedd café. Choose from a range of refreshments and enjoy beautiful views of the Bay through the Senedd windows. Next to the café is the Senedd shop, which showcases a selection of the best of Welsh produce. Whilst we host Poppies: Weeping Window, we have some special items related to the sculpture for sale as a souvenir of your visit.​

It is free to enter the Senedd and you can get more information about planning your weekend visit here. Visit the Senedd this weekend and discover more about the home of the National Assembly for Wales.

A Visitor’s Guide to the Senedd

Visiting Cardiff for the UEFA Champion’s League Final? You’ll find a warm welcome in the capital city of Wales. We are a country full of culture and heritage, and Cardiff is a fantastic place to soak up the atmosphere of this amazing sporting event.

If you find yourself in Cardiff Bay for the UEFA Champion’s League Festival, why not pay a visit to the Senedd and visit one of Wales’ most modern and most important buildings?  We’ve put together a handy guide to help you make the most of your visit.

For information in other languages:

Pour plus d’informations en français: link

Per informazioni in italiano: link

Para información en español: link

IMG_7855What is the Senedd?

The Senedd is the home of the National Assembly for Wales, and represents the heart of democracy in Wales. A modern parliamentary building which celebrated its tenth birthday last year, the Senedd is also one of the most environmentally friendly and sustainable buildings in Wales.

It is also a public building, welcoming visitors seven days a week, and boasts a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence.

Most importantly it’s free to visit and offers some of the best views in Cardiff Bay, so please come inside and have a look around.

What’s inside?

The debating chamber

The Senedd houses the debating chamber of the National Assembly for Wales. Look down below the huge funnel and you’ll be able to see where our politicians sit during parliamentary debates. Take one of our free tours to discover more about the building and what happens here.

chamber-agle

Café and gift shop

The Senedd has also has a café (more on that below) and a shop, which stocks local produce, souvenirs and gifts. Pick up Welsh whisky, Melin Tregwynt textile products and Senedd branded souvenirs as mementos of your visit.

Exhibitions

Next to the café is an exhibition area which regularly hosts a variety of events, exhibitions and other activities throughout the year. Come along and see what’s happening!

Take a guided tour

The best way to get to know the Senedd is through a guided tour. Visitors will learn about the history and the unique architecture of the building and discover more about the work of the National Assembly for Wales.

The tours are FREE. All you need to do is turn up and we’ll let you know what time the next one starts.

Enjoy a taste of Wales

The Senedd’s café offers a selection of hot and cold drinks, or you could sample some traditional Welsh treats – enjoy a Welsh cake or a slice of bara brith (Welsh fruit cake) with a nice British pot of tea.

The views from the seating area are fantastic – watch boats sailing on the sparkling water of Cardiff Bay, or view the hustle and bustle of the Champions League festival from below the Senedd’s impressive canopy.

Facilities and access

As with any government building, all visitors are required to go through security on their way in to the Senedd. Our security team are trained to be aware of the needs of visitors with disabilities, or who might have specific requirements based on their religious beliefs.

The Senedd is fully accessible with ramp access at the front of the building and lifts to all floors inside. A hearing loop system is available to hearing aid users.

The building offers fully assisted changing facilities and gender-neutral washrooms which are suitable for all.

Take a selfie with our Snapchat GeoFilter

If you are on Snapchat – keep an eye out for our special filter and share your photos on social media!

National Assembly for Wales Trip Advisor webpage

Senedd Facebook page