A Letter to Our Readers

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To the readers and supporters of Wales Arts Review:

Re: An open letter from Managing Editor, Phil Morris

When cuts are made to the arts the argument offered against them runs something like: the arts aren’t a luxury item to be cut when money is tight, the arts are a necessity in a civilised society. We at Wales Arts Review not only support this view, we’d go further – the arts are necessary to a cohesive, pluralistic and progressive society, but its ‘poor cousin’ criticism is just as necessary to the arts. So in the grand debate about the kind of country and culture we want, let us not forget the crucial role that arts criticism plays in fostering and growing audiences and readerships across Wales.

Close engagement with the arts in Wales has revealed a richness and diversity of creativity that has inspired each one of our volunteers. Wales Arts Review has played a significant role, over the past two years, in bringing to public attention the world-class arts-makers and writers of Wales. One disappointment we have faced, however, (and this is slowly changing) is that many companies and artists appear to think of us as some form of adjunct publicity or marketing department. We view our role as supportive of the Welsh arts but that is only meaningful if as critics we are also forthright and incisive. We are creating a national record for the arts in Wales, and for future generations to study. Most importantly, we publish well-written, passionate and informative articles that are a pleasure to read in themselves, and not merely to be quoted on posters.

Serious and wide-ranging criticism of the arts in Wales has been woefully underfunded in Wales. We gratefully acknowledge our funding partners, the Welsh Books Council and Arts Council Wales, who have supported us with project funding to redress this imbalance somewhat, but that has still left our volunteers seriously out of pocket for their significant collective contribution to our culture, be it as reviewers, analysts and champions of the Welsh arts. We have paid our own travel expenses to venues and festivals across Wales, and worked unpaid to create a hub around which a critical discussion could take place – a virtual space where being proud to be Welsh does not involve a clichéd kick at ‘the English’ or a chauvinistic boast about our essential specialness as a people. We can stand by our own artistic achievements.

We’ve now reached a point when our work can no longer remain financially unsupported so we started a crowdfunding campaign – please go to our Indiegogo page http://igg.me/at/SupportWalesArtsReview to learn more.

We’re not a media conglomerate with pockets deep enough to provide free content indefinitely, we’re simply a small group of like-minded arts enthusiasts and writers who saw a space where a critical dialogue needed to take place and decided to occupy it. We didn’t wait to raise revenue funding from government agencies, we’d probably still be waiting if we had. We felt confident that if we created Wales Arts Review the people of Wales would support the magazine, and its writers who devote their craft to the discovery, analysis and celebration of the work of others. That is a generous act and it deserves to be reciprocated.

If you wish to know more about our work, you are invited to attend our Critics’ Roundtable event at the Wales Millennium Centre on Saturday November 1. This event will feature six lively panel discussions between writers and critics, the launch of our anthology of short stories ‘A Fiction Map of Wales’ and the presentation of Wales Arts Review’s ‘Greatest Welsh Novel’ award by celebrated actress Sian Phillips. Tickets are free but limited, so book early by going to:

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/wales-arts-review-critics-roundtable-2014-tickets-13576974095?aff=efbevent

We don’t want to construct a paywall that deprives the less well-off of information regarding their culture. Similarly, we don’t want to create a subscription service. So please donate to our campaign – while there is still time – to ensure that Wales Arts Review remains an open, free-of-charge arts resource and national critical record for years to come.

Yours sincerely,

Phil Morris

Managing Editor, Wales Arts Review

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