The Welsh Government elected at the 2021 Senedd election will have the power to make laws that affect the daily lives of artists, performers and creators the length and breadth of Wales. From the sectors’ recovery post-pandemic to funding for arts organisations and creative community projects, we gave the leaders of the main political parties a chance to share their vision for arts and culture in our election spotlight series. Today, Jane Dodds of the Welsh Liberal Democrats outlines her party’s vision.
Welsh Liberal Democrats want to build an open and tolerant Wales where people are free to express themselves, live safely and have easy and open access to services which help them and enrich their lives.
During the pandemic we saw the crucial importance of timely, accurate, and relevant broadcasting and reporting as we waited for the latest updates from the Welsh Government about Covid-19 restrictions. Sadly we don’t have the provision of news and current affairs we need, which affect the political and civic life of our country. We need more power over broadcasting, to ensure that we can meet our own needs.
We will establish an ongoing central fund to support news journalism, with arms-length delivery and accountability to secure impartiality. We will continue to campaign for the devolution of powers over S4C and other public service broadcasting matters. We will insist on a ‘seat at the table’ alongside the UK Government to ensure that Wales has an enhanced role in setting the terms of the next Channel 3 licence for Wales which will expire in the next Senedd term. We will also support an increase in the production of and champion the development of Welsh language film, TV, theatre and arts productions.
Wales has a bold and dynamic cultural life, which should serve all people in Wales. Our cultural and arts sectors make a significant contribution to our quality of life and to our economy; they give us all a chance to connect with our culture and explore our creativity.
The pandemic has been tough on our cultural institutions, with the events industry hit particularly hard. Smaller independent music venues are faced with permanent closure, larger venues predict that it will take over two years to recover financially, and local businesses are losing footfall and income.
We will support the events industry through a package of funding and guidance to unlock opportunities in order to continue a programme of events. With significant uncertainty for many businesses, we must keep Wales creative. We proudly support our arts, heritage and cultural sector and will work with them to recover from the pandemic, including providing fair funding for Welsh institutions and grassroots organisations from Llyfrgell Genedlaethol to small theatres.
The Welsh language is an inherent strand of the fabric of our country but still feels inaccessible to too many. Despite the progress made in recent years, there is still much to be done. Our efforts must span beyond education and consider the factors that are affecting our Welsh speaking communities, that prevent the provision of Welsh medium services, and that hold back civic and cultural life.
We believe in a truly bilingual nation, where everyone is able to access Welsh medium education and access Welsh medium arts and music in a meaningfully way and lead their lives using Welsh as their main language. The Welsh Lib Dems will pass a Welsh Language Education for All Act, normalising the Welsh language in education including for life-long learning and those in post-16 education. We’re also proud to support and enable the growth of rural, Welsh-speaking communities through a package of policies and funding.
Sadly, in Wales racial equality is still a far way off. We recognise that there are significant structural issues that we need to address. Over half of British-born Black, Asian and minority ethnic people believe that the criminal justice system discriminates against particular groups, but only around a third of British-born white people think the same.
For example in Wales, Black, Asian and minority ethnic people are overrepresented at every stage of the criminal justice system: as victims of crime, in stop-and-searches, within the prison population and among people on probation.
We believe that the police, Crown Prosecution Service, the judiciary and HM Prison and Probation Service should publish a strategy on Black, Asian and minority ethnic people in Wales and report annually to the Senedd on tackling race inequality in Wales. The Lammy Review must also be implemented in full.
You can read the Welsh Liberal Democrats’ manifesto here.