Tag: Wales

10 reasons to visit the Senedd this Summer

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

Looking for something to do this weekend? Why not head to Cardiff Bay to visit the Senedd?

From politics to architecture, from art to artisan Welsh products, the Senedd has something for everyone.

1. The award-winning architecture and design

The Senedd is truly one of a kind. It’s huge funnel and canopy made of sustainable Canadian cedar wood are best viewed from inside the building, where you can explore on two levels.

2. Explore the Senedd trail

Looking for some fun, free children’s activities to enjoy this weekend? Little explorers can time-travel through the centuries on our children’s trails. Search the Senedd and collect the clues – and find out lots of interesting facts along the way. Hand your completed card back to Reception and enter the draw to win a prize!

3. See what happens behind the scenes

Over the summer our guided tours include exclusive access to areas not usually open to the public. Our friendly, expert guides will take you on a journey through the history of the Bay through to the architecture of the Senedd and Wales today.
Best of all, tours are free and run daily at 11.00 / 14.00 / 15.00

4. Enjoy a taste of Wales in our café and shop

A day of exploring the Bay calls for a paned (Welsh for ‘cuppa’) and cake in our café. Choose from a range of refreshments and enjoy beautiful views of the Bay through the Senedd’s huge windows. Next to the café is the shop, which stocks Welsh produce, books and gifts.

5. Take in some art

The Senedd will be hosting some great new exhibitions throughout the Summer.

You could create your own postcard from Wales inspired by Steve Knapik MBE’s huge installation and post it in our post box.
Discover some of the history of Cardiff Bay through Jack K Neale’s old black and white images of ships sailing out of Bute Docks, carrying South Wales coal back to France.
Or think about what you’d add to Drawn Together, a national project which invited people to take five minutes to draw something they could see. In total over 4,500 people participated, with drawings received from every county in Wales.

6. The friendliest security in Cardiff

As with any parliamentary building, all visitors are required to go through airport-style security on their way into the Senedd. However, our Security team strive to make a good first impression. Here is a very small selection of the many comments we’ve received about them on Trip Advisor:

“Had to pass through security, but they were the politest I’ve encountered (Heathrow take note)”
Celticfire

“Friendliest government building I have ever visited! Beautiful and interesting building manned by the friendliest staff I’ve ever come across. Even the security guards were a delight ensuring an easy, safe transit into the building.”
Gillyflower58

“Airport style security performed by some very happy and friendly staff.”
138Paul138

Did we mention we also have a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence?

7. Enjoy the Senedd’s environmental design

Baking hot in Cardiff Bay? The Senedd’s unique design keeps it lovely and cool on summer days. It’s windows actually open and close automatically to help regulate the temperature inside.

8. Help us celebrate 20 years

This year we are celebrating 20 years of the National Assembly for Wales. Share your aspirations for Wales over the next 20 years on our board.

9. We’ve got Lego®, Duplo® and activities for little ones

If you’re feeling inspired after seeing the Bright Bricks dragon, princess and wizard in Mermaid Quay, come along and add your own Lego® creation to our map of Wales. Throughout the holidays we also have colouring and craft available to keep little ones entertained while you enjoy a well-earned sit down.

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10. It’s free!

And how much does it cost to access all this, I hear you ask? Nothing. The Senedd is a public building – your building – and we are open 7 days a week. Whether you’re visiting Cardiff for the weekend or you’re a local who’s never ventured inside, head down to the Senedd this summer as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the National Assembly for Wales.


A Landscape of Creative Talent

Steve Knapik MBE tells us all about his exhibition, ‘A Postcard from Wales’ which is opening at the Senedd on the 27th of July 2019.

I am an artist, but I am also passionate about my work with the Blue Balloon Children’s Charity. Through this charity, many people work hard to improve children’s lives in Wales.  A few years ago, I wanted to help Blue Balloon by organising a huge art project to create a very, very big landscape artwork; so big in fact, that I hoped to break the Guinness World Record for the Longest Continuing Landscape artwork. I knew that this would be a lot of work, so I asked for help from many different people, including primary school pupils, groups supporting people living with dementia, and pupils from schools for those with additional needs. It was important to me to get a range of people involved so that we could make sure that the project was inclusive and welcoming to all.

We worked hard for five years. It took a lot of work to organise everything, but it was worth it when I could see the excitement and enjoyment on everyone’s face. If we were to break the Guinness World Record  we needed at least 30,000 drawings, so there was a lot of work to be done! Each drawing had lines showing where the mountains and sky were, and this meant that the drawings could be joined together to create one large joined artwork. I saw a lot of creative talent and imaginative ways of thinking about our landscapes. For example, some primary school children used blocks of coloured stripes to represent fields.

Everyone was excited about our World Record attempt. Even the Liberty Stadium in Swansea was ready for us to display over 5 miles of original, joined up drawings…

And then, bad news! We discovered that our project couldn’t be registered as a World Record. I felt very sad and disappointed. What was I going to do with all these fantastic drawings? But I was determined not to be defeated. These amazing artworks deserved to be on display. I needed an iconic, important building to show the talent and creativity that I had seen in children all over Wales.

I got in touch with the National Assembly for Wales and I met Alice, who is a curator there. She works with artists to organise exhibitions. Where better for these brilliant artworks than the Senedd, the home of democracy in Wales, where people make important decisions about what happens in our country? Alice and I met a few times to come up with the best solution to display the artwork in the Senedd, and finally we were ready to put the exhibition together for everyone to enjoy.

I feel that the Senedd will be the perfect place to show our artwork, and I am looking forward to getting even more people involved, by encouraging visitors to the Senedd to make postcards to send, and to celebrate a lot of exciting things that are happening at the Assembly this year…

The 20th Anniversary of the National Assembly for Wales.

It was such an honour to be chosen to be part of this important celebration. The National Assembly for Wales was created twenty years ago, and the Senedd is the perfect place for a big celebration. The building is open to the public, and I’m very pleased to ask YOU the public to come in and take part in creating your own, unique landscape to continue the project. I hope you have as much fun as over 30,000 children and adults had before you, taking part in our project.

The Welsh Youth Parliament

In February this year the Welsh Youth Parliament, made of 60 young people aged 11 – 18, met for the first time. We want to help celebrate this wonderful event and stand alongside the 60 members who represent every part of Wales. Each member has a big interest in a part of life that affects young people today. It is so important for our young people to have a voice, and the Youth Parliament work hard to make sure that that voice is heard. Some members of the Youth Parliament even took part in my project when they were at school!

In many ways the motto of the Blue Balloon Children’s charity, ‘Today’s hope for a better tomorrow’ can also be applied to these young people who represent the voices of all young people in Wales –helping to make a difference.

The Arts as part of our Welsh identity.

Wales as a nation has a strong sense of belonging and identity. This is shown in so many ways, especially through the arts. We celebrate Wales as the Land of Song, so music is a strong part of our heritage; but so are poetry, drama and the visual arts. Inspiration comes from many sources. Artists have for many centuries been fascinated by the landscapes of Wales: the mountains, sea and sky.

It is important that we take a close look at our immediate environment, and whilst talking to people young and less young throughout the project, we talked about many issues that are having an effect on where we live. The environment around us can help to start discussion, and we showed our feelings about our environment through our landscape artworks. We must never lose sight of the importance the arts plays in society and how it can be very positive for our wellbeing and sense of who we are.

Removing the barriers to encourage a diverse and representative audience into public life

Our guest post comes from Deputy Presiding Officer, Ann Jones AM as we mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December. 

Having been a politician for many years, I’ve been faced with numerous obstacles. Some of these have been due to my disability and I’ve worked hard to overcome these barriers. I’ve been lucky enough to have received a great deal of support from my family, colleagues and in the workplace which has had a big impact on my life.

I know first-hand that the barriers facing disabled people can be very off-putting and can discourage people from taking part in public life and politics. These are barriers that we need to remove in order to encourage a diverse and representative audience into public life.

Barriers which disabled people encounter may include:

  • Perceptual – based upon their views of accessibility or other people’s views of disabled people;
  • Environmental – based upon the accessibility of a physical space; or
  • Procedural – based upon the policies and procedures in place.

My mother was an inspiration to me and she made sure I was given all the opportunities that those without a disability had. This is what we need to do for the wider public, by breaking down these barriers.

A commitment to promoting diversity

I feel very privileged to be the Deputy Presiding Officer at the National Assembly for Wales. I’ve been keen to use my role to highlight issues of importance. The two themes which I’ve focused on to date include ‘Women in Politics’ and ‘Promoting an accessible Assembly’. Over the years, the Assembly has been awarded numerous prestigious awards for its commitment to inclusion and diversity.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index, where the Assembly is recognised as the Top Employer in the UK in 2018 and as one of the Top UK Employers for LGBT people each year since 2009
  • National Autism Society Autism Friendly Award
  • Ranked in the top ten UK employers, accredited by the Top Employers for Working Families organisation
  • Age Employer Champion Status
  • Action on Hearing Loss Louder Than Words charter mark, and Service Excellence Awards.

The Assembly is committed to promoting diversity, inclusion and equality of opportunity for staff and the people of Wales. There’s a dedicated Diversity and Inclusion team within the Assembly Commission along with an Assembly Committee (Equality, Local Government and Communities) that tackle these issues daily. Further to this, a report has been commissioned by the Assembly’s Remuneration Board to identify barriers and incentives for disabled people standing for election.

We are proud to have an accessible building and the policies, procedures and training in place to ensure that disabled people can fully participate in our democracy. Whether this be as an Assembly Member, a member of staff or a visitor.

But this has certainly been a journey. We have worked hard over a number of years to continue to improve the accessibility of our buildings and the support that we have in place for disabled people.

Designing an inclusive home from the inside out

When the architect of the Senedd was putting plans in place, I noticed that some of the design features weren’t taking disabilities into consideration. The big glass walls were completely transparent, making it very difficult for a person with a visual impairment to see. I put forth my idea to include visual aids such as large dots on the glass surfaces. I had to push the idea numerous times before it was agreed. After all, if it’s right for a person with a disability, it’s right for everyone. These are the small changes which make a big difference.

In 2017 I was fortunate enough to attend the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s inaugural conference for parliamentarians with disabilities in Nova Scotia, Canada. It was inspiring to hear the struggles and successes that people from all over the Commonwealth have experienced. I was very pleased to showcase Wales and our exemplar Parliament building. This has now been established as a standalone network by the name of Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities (CPwD). I hope that this will drive positive change throughout the Commonwealth and indeed the world, in politics and across public life.

Ann Jones at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’sAnn Jones with Kevin Murphy, speaker of the Nova Scotia Assembly in Canada inaugural conference for parliamentarians with disabilities in Nova Scotia, Canada
Ann Jones AM with Kevin Murphy MLA, Speaker of the Nova Scotia Legislative  Assembly in Canada

I would encourage all disabled people reading this blog to consider what role you can play in public life, whether through volunteering in your community, applying for a public role or by standing as an Assembly Member.

It’s important that on this International Day of Persons with a Disability we remember that disabled people have a voice that needs to be heard and that any barriers to participation should be challenged and removed. We all have a role to play in helping to identify and remove barriers for disabled people.

Elected Members have an important role to play, whether disabled or not, to give a voice to the needs of disabled people.  Having campaigners and advocates are also very important but the value of having elected representatives who have experienced difficulties and tackled them is invaluable. This is why more needs to be done, to strive for equality and inclusion in all aspects of life.

Accounts Scrutiny – What’s it all about?

The Public Accounts Committee will spend a significant part of the Autumn term undertaking accounts scrutiny for the Welsh Government, National Assembly for Wales Commission, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, and the National Museums Wales.

What is Account Scrutiny?

The annual scrutiny of accounts by the Public Accounts Committee involves the consideration of the accounts and annual reports of different public funded bodies, to consider see whether there are any unusual or unclear items of expenditure of public money.  In addition to looking at how these organisations spend money, the Committee also considers how they are run and whether their governance arrangements are appropriate and accountable.

Why do it?

Although this approach can appear a little dull, this is an important piece of work because it ensures that there is scrutiny of how public money is being spent. It also provides an opportunity to hold to account those tasked with the responsibility of overseeing the expenditure of public money.

Accounts and Annual reports not only provide an important snapshot of the financial health of these publicly funded organisations they also tell a story about how the organisation is being run and whether there are robust governance structures and working practices in place or not.

By undertaking this scrutiny annually, the Committee has been able to build a deterrence factor into its work, with organisations responsible for spending our money knowing they could be called before the Committee to face public scrutiny.

Does it work?

The Committee has been doing this work for a number of years now, and generally we have seen an improvement in the information available, and in ensuring that it is more accessible. In particular, many organisations have risen to the challenge of presenting this often complex information in a more understandable format.

In addition to the more general improvements, the Committee has also brought to light a number of areas of concern which have been subject to greater scrutiny and ultimately an improvement in practices – and have generated media coverage such as:

Why consider these bodies?

At the beginning of the fifth Assembly, the Committee agreed to consider the accounts and annual report of the Welsh Government and the Assembly Commission annually. It took this decision because the Welsh Government has an annual budget of over £15 billion, which is a significant sum of public money. While the Assembly Commission is the corporate body which provides support for the National Assembly for Wales, and its Members, (so ultimately the Committee) – and so the Committee felt it was important to not sit above scrutiny.

For 2017-18, the Committee will be considering the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales Annual Report and Accounts and National Museum Wales.  The Committee has previously considered the Accounts and Annual Report of these two organisations.  Hopefully, the recommendations by the previous Public Accounts Committee will have helped these organisations to make improvements and there will now be a positive story to tell.

Get Involved

Do you have any questions you would like asked about how these organisations have been run over the last year?

Do you have any concerns about how funds have been allocated?

What question would you ask those responsible for spending public money?

Let us know: @seneddpac / @seneddarchwilio
Seneddpac@assembly.wales

Our Accounts Scrutiny starts on Monday 8 October 2018 when we look at the Accounts and Annual Report of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales and the Assembly Commission.

Hitting the Right Note: Inquiry Into Funding For and Access to Music Education

An interview with Bethan Sayed AM, Chair of the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee.

Introduce yourself briefly explain the remit of the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee.

My name is Bethan Sayed, and I chair the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications committee in the National Assembly for Wales.

Bethan Sayed AM, speaking at the report launch event.
Bethan Sayed AM, Chair of the Committee, speaking at the report launch event.

We scrutinise government ministers in relation to their portfolio. For example, we’ve recently done an investigation into radio in Wales. We’ve looked at the Welsh language and we’ve also looked at the historical environment as well as non-public funding of the Arts.

It’s been good to be able to have a remit that includes communications so that we can look at the broadcasting landscape of Wales and scrutinise that effectively also.

The Culture, Welsh Language and Communications committee has just launched its report on its inquiry into funding for and access to music education in Wales. The topic of this inquiry was chosen through quite an innovative and slightly unusual way.  Could you explain the background and what led the Committee to look at this particular issue?

After being on committees for quite some time that, of course Assembly Members have their own ideas and bring ideas for future work to the table, which is valid but it could obviously be based on our own pet subjects.

I thought it would be interesting to go to the public to ask them exactly what type of investigation they would like us to look into what the population wanted us to focus on, and what were the key priority areas.

We did a public poll and it came out that people wanted us to look at music in education the music tuition that people receive in schools and in our communities and how that can be improved and developed.

It was really good to launch this public poll because then people could engage with a committee in a very different way. So I was happy that our committee was the first to try this and perhaps we could do it again to come up with other ideas for the future.

 What were the key themes that the inquiry covered?

They were very keen for us to look at music services in schools. We were seeing, constituents coming to our offices saying that there were problems with the funding of this sector. We were seeing that music services by local authorities were being cut.

So we wanted to get to grips with what was important and come up with solutions to see how we could aid the sector.

We didn’t look at the curriculum, because music education in relation to the provision of tutoring was very different to that. That’s something that we could look at in future. But that’s not what we focused on this time.

During the inquiry the Committee heard from a wide range of witnesses and due to your own experiences as a musician this topic must be very close to your heart – Was there anything that came up through the course of the inquiry that was a particular surprise?

 When we went to Ysgol Pengam, we found that they were doing very structured work in the rock and pop field, and they were competing in competitions in England, but they weren’t able to do that in Wales and there was no ensemble. There’s an ensemble for the orchestra, here in Wales but no rock and pop ensembles.

Maya Morris performing at the event
Maya Morris from Lewis School Pengam performing at the event

So I guess what did surprise me, perhaps because I’ve come from the more classical side, is that there was such an enthusiasm to set up this ensemble so that people who wanted to go into the rock industry or the pop industry could do that through their school structures.

So that was quite enlightening, but also pleasing to see, because orchestras and ensembles is not always going to suit everybody You don’t necessarily have to be able to read music to take part in those types of activities, so it would open up a new avenue.

In relation to funding streams, that didn’t surprise me, because my sister is 18 and she’s attended orchestras, and I know from my interest in this issue that this downward trend of the provision of services was not new.

The report says that music services must be protected, nurtured and accessible to all.  The Committee also states that it welcomes the Welsh Government’s Commitment to put creative activity on an equal basis to other areas of learning and experience.  Why is music education so important? What are the benefits?

I think a lot of schools get it in relation to music because they understand that it’s a transferable skill – it’s working as a team, it’s discipline, it’s allowing people to be creative and allowing their wellbeing aims to be met. But some schools, unless the head teacher really understands the value of music, then it might not permeate throughout the school.

As somebody who’s played the piano, viola and violin from an early age, I think it has to be seen as something that isn’t niche, that isn’t exclusive, that is accessible – because it can aid you in so many different ways in life.

For example, an orchestra course would allow me to become independent. It would allow me to make new friends. You’ve got to learn to listen to others and to be able to be respectful of others, and so is not all to do with the music that’s on the paper – it’s about how you want to progress as an individual.

People who go into music at a young age can take their skills elsewhere and you will meet doctors, you’ll meet scientists, you’ll meet politicians who have used music in ways in which they can be quite focused on what they want to do in life.

I think we need to encourage more schools to understand that it’s not just this fluffy thing about listening or playing music for an hour a day, it’s about how that can be seen as a core part of the curriculum in every shape and form. I hope that through this report that we can convince people that we can grow and develop music in our schools.

With all those potential benefits it must have been troubling for the Committee to hear some witnesses characterising the position of music in Welsh education as in ‘crisis’.  In July 2015, the Welsh Government commissioned a report into music services in Wales – What has been the Committee’s conclusion about the progress made in the 3 years since the publication of that report – is the Welsh Government doing enough to prevent this ‘crisis’ from developing?

It was very troubling to hear people such as Owain Arwel Hughes, a renowned conductor, Tim Rhys-Evans, who conducts Only Men Allowed, say these things, because I don’t believe that they would use the word ‘crisis’ lightly.

The Committee received evidence from Tim Rhys-Evans, founder and director of Only Men Allowed
The Committee received evidence from Tim Rhys-Evans, founder and director of Only Men Allowed

It troubles me that Wales is associated with music and song, and they were saying we may not be the land of song anymore if we allow this, music services are being cut, and may even disappear in parts of Wales. In fact, we’ve seen with the national ensembles, less people have been auditioning for them this year so there is that worry.

Also with regard to the report that was commissioned, , I feel that once certain ministers had left – that it wasn’t a priority for some local authorities. I think that’s why we’ve said so clearly in the report that there needs to be a national guidance and national strategy, because you cannot simply rely on local authorities.

I think some people, to be fair, said ‘well perhaps that’s going a bit too far, we don’t want to scaremonger’. But again, sometimes using those types of phrases can actually say ‘well now is the time to make sure that we don’t get to the point where those services don’t exist anymore’. I hope that our support has allowed for that discussion to happen at the right time before more music services are cut or disappear altogether.

The report itself covers 16 recommendations but what’s the most important issue to take from the findings?

Well, we wanted to come up with solutions because, it’s been close to my heart for many, many years.  Perhaps there’s a lack of coming together in the past of people from different walks of life in the music service to say, ‘well actually, how can we make this happen and how can we improve on this?’

I welcomed the Welsh Government investment in relation to the endowment fund, in relation to the music amnesty and in relation to putting music on the political agenda again. But without structural change, things are not going to improve. So the most important recommendation for us has been to say that we need to establish a national arm’s length body for music services in Wales.  We simply cannot rely anymore on individual local authorities deciding whether they prioritise it or not. We would need to make sure that it was properly funded, and that there would be a regional element to its delivery on a ground level.

At the moment you’re seeing the national ensembles work in a different type of landscape to the work that’s happening on the ground in our communities. It’s called ‘the pyramid’, so you would have the school orchestras, then you would have the community orchestras, then you would have the national ensembles. If you had one national body – they would be identifying young people to come through the system, and that’s what we’re not seeing at the moment.

There was discussion about whether it could be done in a different way, but I think ultimately we came to the conclusion – especially as we were calling for a national music strategy – that one national body to deal with this particular element of the educational workforce would be integral to its future. I think as a committee we want it to be forward looking, we wanted to put a recommendation out there that would challenge people’s minds and that they would look outside the box somewhat to current funding and current structures.

We wouldn’t want to let any of those particular areas get left behind as well. We didn’t want to be too prescriptive but we wanted to put our marker down and say ‘this has to be a national system now’.

To download Hitting the Right Note: Inquiry Into Funding For and Access to Music Education, click here.

For the latest updates from the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee, follow @SeneddCWLC on Twitter.

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

The Wales Act 2017 – A new chapter for devolution in Wales

2018 will see new powers being given to Wales, but what difference could it make to you and life in Wales? 

SeneddInk

On 18 September 1997, the people of Wales voted in favour of the creation of the National Assembly for Wales.

Since then, devolution in Wales has been through a number of changes (with as many different settlements as there have been Welsh rugby grand slams—a particularly successful period for Welsh rugby!).

The Assembly and Welsh Government were formally separated, the Assembly took on primary law-making powers, Legislative Competence Orders came and went, the power to pass Measures became a power to pass Acts, and Wales received powers to raise taxes and borrow money.

On 31 January this year, the Wales Act 2017 received Royal Assent, marking the start of the next phase of Welsh devolution. But what does it mean for Wales?

The introductory text to the Act describes it as “An Act to amend the Government of Wales Act 2006 and the Wales Act 2014 and to make provision about the functions of the Welsh Ministers and about Welsh tribunals; and for connected purposes”. What this means in practice is that the Act:

  • Includes for the first time a declaration that the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government are permanent parts of the UK’s constitutional and political landscape;
  • Introduces a new model of devolution: a reserved powers model (similar to that in place in Scotland);
  • Gives the Welsh Ministers new powers in areas such as energy, planning, roads and harbours;
  • Gives the Assembly new powers over its own internal, organisational and electoral arrangements;
  • Establishes the concept of Welsh tribunals and a President of Welsh tribunals.

Clearly the Act will provide the Assembly with greater control over some areas, in particular Assembly elections. However it also reserves control over other policy areas to Westminster including, notably, the legal jurisdiction of Wales.

Most provisions of the Act will come into force on the day to be specified by the Secretary of State for Wales, known as the Principal Appointed Day, which is the 1 April 2018. The tax raising powers provided by the Wales Act 2014 will come on stream on the same day.

So what changes can we expect as a result of the Wales Act 2017?

Naturally the Welsh Government and Assembly will wish to use new powers gained to legislate to improve the lives of people in Wales. One other possibility is that the Assembly itself might change. In November 2016, the Assembly Commission announced that it would take forward work to explore how the new powers in the Act might be used to reform the Assembly. This was followed by an announcement in June 2017 that, following a public consultation, the Commission would seek to change the name of the Assembly to Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru.

In addition, the Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform, tasked with looking at the number of Members the Assembly needs, how they should be elected, and what the minimum voting age should be, reported in December 2017. Read their report here.

Whatever the outcome of the Panel’s work, it is clear the next phase of devolution in Wales is just beginning.

Huw Gapper, Senior Constitutional Change Officer

Future Senedd Consultation