The Independent Review of Support for Publishing and Literature in Wales was published after a series of delays on Tuesday afternoon, and although the 212 page report highlights much that is positive in the industry with most of its recommendations to the Welsh Government amounting to improvement and investment into strategies already in place, it has recommended sweeping changes to the remit of Literature Wales, the body responsible for the support and promotion of Welsh writers.
In the conclusion, the report states:
The Welsh Government should seek agreement from the Welsh Books Council (WBC) that it will take on some of Literature Wales’ (LW) current functions, including:
- Book of the Year (with the aim of increasing its commercial impact, including consideration of the marketing approach required)
- Literary Events / Writers on Tour
- Provision for children and young people
With these structural changes, the following would remain with ACW / LW:
- Ty Newydd Writing Centre
- Other cultural events and festivals delivered by ACW
The report goes on to further deconstruct Literature Wales and offers more criticism. It outlines how Arts Council Wales must rethink its relationship to literature by:
Reconsidering the roles of both ACW and LW in supporting literary festivals. LW especially is meant to be an enabling body, but this is a good example of it acting more as a deliverer of events than an enabler of others to do so. In part this seems driven by an undue focus within LW on attendance numbers at literary events as a benchmark for success in supporting literature. This is misguided. These events are important tools for literature, audiences and writers, but they are not the primary means of mass literary consumption; success in increasing engagement with Welsh literature should not principally be measured in this way.
In the report’s potentially fatal suggestions for Literature Wales it closes with:
Reconsidering whether ‘national company’ status is appropriate for LW, following the transfer of key responsibilities to the WBC.
(LW is much too inward looking, with not enough focus on outcomes.)
In other areas, the report calls for publishers to work harder in promoting Welsh books outside of Wales, and identifies a general conservatism dominant in Welsh publishing.
The report also calls for further investment into digital strategy and marketing.
Cabinet Secretary Ken Skates AM this afternoon delivered a statement on the long awaited report from the Independent Review of Support for Publishing and Literature in Wales. Skates said in his statement to the Senedd assembly that although there is a great deal of strong evidence for existing good practice there would also be some big changes coming. Most significant singled out from the 212 page report is to be the re-allocation of many of Literature Wales’ responsibilities to the Welsh Books Council, including the management of Wales Book of the Year, the annual Writers’ Bursaries Fund, Writers on Tour, and youth development programmes, leaving Literature Wales with little more than the management of the Ty Newydd writing centre in north Wales. Although this is yet to be confirmed, Skates said in the statement that he is in the mind to implement most of the report’s recommendations.
In other moments, Skates reported how the public and stakeholder response had made the consultation one of the most successful the Welsh Government had ever commissioned.
The full report can be found here.
More to follow soon from Wales Arts Review.