Dawn Bowden MS, Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, and Chief Whip
Developing a Culture Strategy for Wales is a key Programme for Government and Co-operation Agreement commitment within my portfolio. Culture and creative experiences are tremendously valued by the public and contribute to positive health outcomes, personal wellbeing, community cohesion and economic growth.
In my last written statement on 15 November 2022, I updated you on the scope of the forthcoming Culture Strategy, and about our plans for research and engagement to be conducted by our lead partner. I also informed you of the formation of an Overarching Steering Group to scrutinise and critically evaluate progress on the development of the Strategy. I am pleased to share a further update on the development of the Culture Strategy.
Stakeholder engagement by our lead partner began in December 2022 and is scheduled to complete by the end of March. As part of this engagement process, the lead partner is conducting in-depth interviews with stakeholders across the arts, culture and heritage sectors, including with our cultural arm’s length bodies, Cadw, local sector organisations. and sector practitioners. The lead partner is also facilitating workshops with the sectors and with communities across Wales. I expect to receive their initial findings and to understand emerging themes in the coming months.
I am also pleased to confirm the membership of the Overarching Steering Group for the Culture Strategy. I believe the members bring a balance of skills, professional experience, sector perspectives and representation to the work of the Steering Group:
- Devinda de Silva (co-chair), is the former Director of Collaboration at National Theatre Wales, a Council Member at Arts Council Wales (ACW) where he chairs the Strategic Equality Committee, and a trustee of Disability Arts Cymru. Devinda has held advisory roles at Counterpoint Arts (a leading national organisation in the field of arts migration and cultural change), The Baring Foundation and The Gulbenkian Foundation.
- Sara Huws (co-chair) is a Civic Engagement Officer at Cardiff University Libraries and Archives. Sara has over 15 years’ experience in public engagement and programming at Cardiff University and at Amgueddfa Cymru. She was a co-founder of the first museum dedicated to women’s history in the UK, the East End Women’s Museum, known for its inclusive approach to working-class and LGBTQ+ women’s history.
- Dylan Huw is a freelance writer and an Arts Council Wales / Natural Resources Wales Future Wales Fellow. He works bilingually across collaborative projects, often to explore ideas around translation, queerness, ecology and collective practice. He is a recent Jerwood Arts Writer in Residence and was awarded the 2020/1 Geraint George Scholarship.
- Gwawr Ifan is a Senior Lecturer in Music at the School of Language, Culture, and the Arts at Bangor University. Her research focuses on erudition in health and wellbeing. Dr Ifan is a trustee for a number of community arts charities operating in north and north-west Wales.
- Hanan Issa is a freelance writer and the National Poet of Wales for 2022-25. Hanan is a Welsh-Iraqi poet, filmmaker and artist from Cardiff. Her recent work includes Welsh (Plural): Essays on the Future of Wales (Repeater Books, 2022). She also has extensive experience of working with vulnerable groups.
- Lisa Lewis is Professor of Theatre and Performance and the Co-Director of the Centre for Media and Culture in Small Nations at the University of South Wales. Professor Lewis’ research interests include transcultural theatre and performance; performance and heritage/the Museum; theatre and minority languages, and the interdisciplinarity of history and performance.
- David Turner is a Professor of History in the School of Culture and Communication at Swansea University. Professor Turner’s work is dedicated to bringing marginalised people’s histories into the cultural mainstream. He has collaborated with the arts, media, museums, heritage, and archive sectors to make disability histories accessible. He is a trustee of Disability Arts Cymru, Principal Investigator for Copperopolis: Place-Making, Engagement and Heritage-led Regeneration, and co-founder of CHART: Swansea University’s Centre for Heritage Research and Training.
- Dr Sara Louise Wheeler is a freelance poet, writer, and artist. She writes the column ‘From the borders’ for Barddas magazine, exploring all kinds of marginal experiences, including disabilities. She undertakes consultancy work on accessibility and is a member of numerous committees and networks relating to equality and diversity; she is also Vice-Chair of the literature committee for the National Eisteddfod of Wales. Sara works in and around North-East Wales, providing workshops relating to creativity and wellbeing.
At a meeting of the Overarching Steering Group on 2 February 2023, the Designated Member and I were able to outline our vision for the Culture Strategy. We are both clear that the Steering Group is empowered to directly shape the strategy and its overarching principles, and to advise us on new and existing priorities. Our focus remains on ensuring that the new Strategy is both pragmatic and ambitious, that it brings improved cohesion to how the sectors in scope work together, and to how culture is reflected across the work of the Welsh Government. I will continue to keep the Senedd informed of significant milestones as the work progresses.