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The goal for a Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language
Author: Stephanie Howarth
A society that promotes and protects culture, heritage and the Welsh language, and which encourages people to participate in the arts, sports and recreation.
What have we learnt from the data in the last year?
The pandemic has continued to have a negative impact on attendance at arts and cultural events. In 2021-22, 33% of people visited an arts event in the previous year, down substantially from 73% in 2018-19. Arts participation also fell from 20% to 14%. There is no new data on children’s attendance or participation in the arts this year.
There has been mixed progress in sport participation. The rate of adults regularly taking part in sport increased for the first time since 2017-18, although this was not a statistically significant change. However the share who do not take part in any sport or physical activity also increased.
There is no new data on sports participation amongst school pupils, although the latest School Sport Survey is expected to be published later this year.
Both the Annual Population Survey and the National Survey for Wales both showed an increase in the percentage of people who speak Welsh in the latest year. The National Survey for Wales shows that 11% of Welsh speakers are fluent.
The conditions of 444 monuments were assessed in 2021-22. 50% were found to be stable or improved and 50% worsened in condition. 16% of monuments were considered to be at risk. Generally, monuments assessed this year were more likely to be in a worsening condition or at risk than those assessed to date.
The number of museums meeting accredited standards has increased by 5 to 99 and the number of accredited archive services is 14.
What is the longer term progress towards the goal?
Surveys suggest there has been positive progress over the long term in the number of Welsh speakers (especially non-fluent speakers) and in indicators on arts participation and attendance for children. Sports participation for both adults and children has also improved over the longer term, but wide disparities between some groups remain. There has been a decline in some arts-related indicators for adults, with the pandemic exacerbating this further.
The national indicator on arts, culture and heritage has only been collected twice and it shows a fall in regular attendance and participation, from 75% in 2017-18 to 71% in 2019-20. Looking at arts specifically, the fall in attendance and participation worsened during the pandemic, but this not yet an established trend. There continue to be wide differences depending on age, health, deprivation and qualifications.
Despite the decrease in attendance for the most recent year (2019), children and young people’s attendance and participation in the arts has increased substantially over the last decade.
More museums and archive services are meeting accredited standards. 63% have now reached this benchmark, up from 59% in 2017.
Since 2016-17, there has been positive progress in regular participation in sport by adults, despite a plateau between 2017-18 and 2019-20. Sports participation amongst school pupils has stayed at the same level in 2015 and 2018 following an increase from the previous survey.
The number and percentage of people who speak Welsh fell in the 2011 Census, but surveys since then suggest the numbers are increasing. 2021 Census data to monitor the national milestone of one million Welsh speakers by 2050 will be published later in 2022.
Survey data suggests an increase in non-fluent Welsh speakers. The percentage of Welsh speakers that use the language every day has been fairly stable.
Conditions of listed buildings in Wales have improved slightly since 2015, but fewer recently assessed monuments are in a stable condition. Overall, 76% of listed buildings were in a stable or improving condition compared to 59% of monuments.
Arts, culture and heritage
The national indicator on arts, culture and heritage has been collected twice now, for the first time in 2017-18 and most recently in 2019-20. It shows a fall in the percentage of adults regularly attending or participating in arts, culture or heritage activities, from 75% in 2017-18 down to 71% in 2019-20.
There continue to be large differences in attendance and participation between groups. Younger adults, people in good health, people with higher qualifications or people living in the least deprived areas of Wales were more likely to attend or participate in these activities.
Arts attendance and participation in adults
Looking at the arts in more detail, the most recent National Survey for Wales shows that the pandemic has continued to have an impact on attendance at arts and cultural events. In 2021-22, 33% of people visited an arts event in the previous 12 months. This is substantially lower than in 2018-19 when the figure was 73%.
Seeing a film remains the most common arts activity. 21% of people say they saw a film at the cinema in 2021-22, down from 57% in 2018-19.
Participation in the arts increased throughout 2021-22 as restrictions eased but rates remained lower than prior to the pandemic. For 2021-22 overall, 14% of people participated in arts activities in the previous 12 months, compared to 20% when the data was last collected in 2018-19. Visual arts and crafts had the highest level of participation in 2021-22, with 8% of people taking part in the last year.
6% of people attended or participated in a Welsh language arts event in the last year.
The National Survey for Wales asked about barriers to going to or taking part in the arts. A lack of interest and difficulty finding time were the most common barriers mentioned, with 28% and 22% of people citing these reasons. However, for older adults, health reasons were reported as their biggest barrier.
Children and the arts
Over the long term, there has been an increase in children attending arts events. Children’s participation in the arts, however, has been more stable in recent years.
Data from the Arts Council of Wales shows that the share of children and young people attending arts events has increased over the last decade, although there was a slight decrease in the most recent year that data is available. It rose from 76.3% in 2010 to 86.7% in 2019. Data is not yet available for the period covering the pandemic.
Arts participation in children has been broadly unchanged over recent years. Around 86% to 87% of children and young people have taken part in the arts in each of the last four years up to 2019.
There are differences in attendance and participation according to gender and socio-economic background. Girls and children from higher social-economic backgrounds were more likely to attend and participate in the arts, although the gap between boys and girls narrowed in 2019.
Museums and archives
The accreditation scheme for museums and archives was paused for most of the pandemic, but the latest data shows that 99 museums met the accreditation standard in 2022, an increase of five since 2019. This means that 62% of museums are now accredited, compared to 59% in 2017 to 2019. Visits to museums during 2021-22 were affected by the pandemic, with data from the National Survey for Wales showing that 13% of people visited a museum in the last year compared with 37% in 2018-19.
There were 14 accredited archive services in 2022. Although the number meeting the accreditation standard has increased, the percentage has fallen from 86% in 2019 to 74% in 2022. This is due to a number of new entrants to the scheme who are yet to go to the accreditation panel.
The latest results from the National Survey for Wales show a mixed picture for sport participation. For the first time since 2017-18, there was a small increase in the share of adults who take part in sport regularly, although this change was not statistically significant. In 2021-22, 34% reported they take part in sport three or more times a week. Prior to this, the figure had been unchanged for the previous three years that data were available, standing at 32%.
Men, people aged 16 to 44 years old and people in employment were more likely to take part in sport three or more times a week. There were lower levels of participation among people in material deprivation and people with a long-term illness or condition. For ethnic groups, it is only possible to analyse the results for the categories White (Welsh, English, British etc), White other, and any other ethnic group. The White (Welsh, English, British etc) group had the lowest level of regular participation at 33%, although this was not significantly lower than rates for other ethnic groups.
Although there was an increase in people taking part in sport regularly, there was also an increase in people who do not take part in any sport or physical activity. 44% of adults reported this. This is the first time this figure has increased since the data began to be collected in the survey in 2016-17.
Overall, 31% of people would like to do more sport or physical activity. This has fallen substantially from previous surveys where around 50% said they would like to do more.
Children’s participation in sport
The latest school sport survey ran during 2022 with results due to be published in the autumn. The previous survey from 2018 showed that 48% of pupils in school years 3 to 11 participated in sports three times a week. This was unchanged from 2015, following a large increase from 2013.
There was very little difference in overall participation rates between primary and secondary schools, with 47% of primary pupils (aged 7 to 11) and 48% of secondary pupils (aged 11 to 16) participating three times a week in sports.
Boys were more likely to regularly participate in sport than girls (50% versus 46%), but the gap had narrowed compared to the previous survey in 2015. Participation rates for pupils from the least deprived schools tended to be higher than for pupils from the most deprived schools. Rates were also higher for pupils from a mixed or multiple ethnic group and for pupils who were fluent in Welsh.
Research by Sport Wales during the pandemic found that by August 2021 adults reported that their children were doing more sport or physical activity outside of school hours than they typically would have before the pandemic.
The census is the main source of information on the number of people who can speak Welsh in Wales. Data from the 2021 Census will be published later in 2022. According to the previous census in 2011, 19% of people aged three or older are able to speak Welsh.
The national milestone on Welsh language is for one million Welsh speakers by 2050. The data from the census shows that just over 562,000 people in Wales spoke Welsh in 2011. In 1911, almost one million people spoke Welsh so the number has fallen considerably over the last century. It has rebounded slightly since its lowest point in 1981.
Because the census only happens once a decade we use surveys to look at trends between censuses. Survey data are not comparable with the census as people are usually more likely to report they are able to speak Welsh in surveys.
Survey data since the 2011 Census suggests that the number of Welsh speakers has increased, although the share who are fluent has remained relatively unchanged. This means that the increase in the number of Welsh speakers is mainly from people who are not fluent. The percentage of people who are fluent in Welsh has remained at around 10% to 11% since 2012-13, according to the National Survey for Wales.
The percentage of people able to speak Welsh but not fluently is 24%. This has been increasing over recent years, despite a one-off fall in 2019-20 where it fell to 13%.
Another source of data on Welsh speakers is the Annual Population Survey. This survey also shows an increase in the percentage of people able to speak Welsh over the last decade. The survey switched from face-to-face interviews to telephone during the pandemic and the impact of this on the statistics isn’t yet fully understood. Previous research suggests that some survey methods can result in more people reporting they are able to speak Welsh than other survey methods.
Welsh language use
The latest Welsh language use survey shows there has been little change in how often people speak Welsh.
In 2019-20, 10% of people aged three or older spoke Welsh daily and could speak more than just a few words of Welsh. This is the same percentage as in the previous Welsh Language Use Survey in 2013-15. More recent data from the National Survey for Wales for people aged 16 or older also suggests there has been little overall change in the rate of people using Welsh daily.
Children and young people are the group most likely to report they are able to speak Welsh according to both the census and surveys, with both sources suggesting around 40% of 3 to 15 year olds are able to do so. Younger people beyond the age of compulsory education are less likely to report that they speak Welsh.
The Welsh Language Use Survey provides analysis of the use of Welsh language amongst children and adults. It showed that children are most likely to use Welsh daily, likely due to regular use in schools. The percentage of 3 to 15 year olds who spoke Welsh daily was considerably higher than any other age group, with almost a quarter of them speaking Welsh daily. The percentage of 3 to 15 year olds who spoke Welsh daily is similar to the percentage of pupils who receive their education in Welsh-medium or bilingual primary, middle and secondary schools, although we do not know if they are necessarily the same children.
Children aged 3 to 15 are much more likely to have started learning to speak the language at school than those aged 65 or older (69% compared to 15%). This is probably due to the significant change in the Welsh-medium education sector over the last fifty years, with a general increase in the number of pupils learning through the medium of Welsh and in the number of Welsh-medium schools that have been opened across Wales.
The youngest age group are less likely to have at least one parent who is fluent in Welsh. 36% of children aged 3 to 15 reported this, compared to 69% for people aged 65 or older.
The Welsh language use survey 2019-20 shows that Welsh speakers who started learning to speak the language at home as young children are much more likely to speak the language daily or be fluent in Welsh compared with those who started learning to speak Welsh at school or as an adult elsewhere.
The Welsh language use survey also concluded that Welsh speakers are twice as likely to speak Welsh every day if they had at least one parent fluent in Welsh, compared to Welsh speakers who did not have a fluent parent.
Fluent Welsh speakers speak the language more often than those who are not fluent.
Historic buildings and monuments
Conditions of listed buildings in Wales have improved slightly since 2015, but fewer recently assessed monuments are in a stable condition.
Of the 30,000 listed buildings, 76% are in a stable or improving condition and 9% are considered to be at risk. In general, conditions of listed buildings have improved slightly since 2015, when 74% were in a stable or improving condition
The conditions of a sample of scheduled monuments are assessed each year. In 2021-22 condition surveys were carried out for 444 scheduled monuments, of which 50% were found to be stable or improved and 50% worsened. 16% of the monuments were considered to be at risk. Generally, monuments assessed this year were more likely to be in a worsening condition or at risk than those assessed to date.
Of the 4,200 scheduled monuments in Wales, overall 59% are assessed to be in a stable or improved condition. This is unchanged from last year, but over the longer term the figure has been gradually falling since 2016-17, when 66% were in a stable or improved condition. In line with the findings from the previous year, 41% of scheduled monuments are demonstrating deterioration, of which 15% are considered to be ‘at risk’. The main impacts are damage and decay due to weathering and stock erosion.
According to the National Survey for Wales in 2019-20, 63% of adults visited a historic place in the previous year, with castles, forts and ruins the most likely place to be visited. There has been no overall change in the share of people visiting historic places since the data was last collected in 2017-18.
Previous versions of the Wellbeing of Wales report include further analysis of:
- taking part in volunteering or in arts or sports activities
- barriers to participation in arts differences between socio-economic and population groups in arts and sports participation
- trends in the types of activities participated
- sport participation during the pandemic
- links between Welsh language and arts and culture events
The Arts Council of Wales and Sport Wales produce regular in-depth reports on arts and sports. This includes the Children’s Omnibus Survey 2019 and the School Sport Survey. Results from the latest School Sport Survey are expected later in 2022.
A range of analysis on the Welsh Language is also available from the 2011 Census and in Welsh Language Use Survey reports for 2019-20.
The following publications analysed survey data on the Welsh Language in more detail.
Arts attendance and participation
Historic buildings and monuments
Museums and archives
CyMAL: Museums, Archives and Libraries Wales