Concerns are being raised in Wales about how £59 million of funding announced as part of the government’s investment package will be distributed to the country’s at-risk arts sector.
Organisations and artists in Wales are "on their knees" as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, members of the Senedd have warned, meaning they urgently need clarity as to whether the promised support can be delivered.
Reports had suggested that the £59 million announced may only amount to as little as £12.5 million for the entire Welsh economy, following calculations carried out after chancellor Rishi Sunak’s summer statement last week.
It is now understood that the arts settlement will be counted separately to this, however the money can be used for any purpose by the Welsh government, which has not confirmed how it intends to spend any new funding.
Welsh arts organisations welcomed the news of the UK government’s £1.57 billion rescue package earlier this month, which came with assurances that that the funding would mean an extra £188 million for devolved administrations, including £59 million for Wales.
The allocation – including £33 million for Northern Ireland and £97 million for Scotland – was calculated using the Barnett Formula, which stipulates that when the UK government decides to commit to spending in England, an equivalent amount must be distributed among the other nations to spend at their discretion.
When the issue was raised in the Senedd by Plaid Cymru MS Siân Gwenllian, ministers said they could not yet confirm what funding will be made available for the arts.
Gwenllian told The Stage: "I was dismayed to hear yesterday that the Welsh government cannot provide any clarity or indeed any concrete information to the arts sector in Wales about Covid support funding despite the announcement from UK government last week that £59 million was available from the Treasury.
"Either the UK government has misled the arts sector in Wales with its announcement and there is no such money, or the Welsh government has decided to ignore the announcement and use the money elsewhere," she said.
Gwenllian added that the uncertainty had "created panic within the sector".
"They are on their knees already and they urgently deserve clarity and transparency from the Welsh government... But if the financial support doesn’t materialise very soon, Wales’ once thriving industry will simply disappear overnight and recovery will take many years."
A spokeswoman said the Welsh government is working with the Arts Council of Wales and other sector bodies "to put forward a package of support that meets the needs of the sector in Wales".
"We hope to be able to announces something on this in the next few weeks," she added.
A spokesman for ACW added that while the decision lies with the government, it is involved in "active discussion... about the specific needs of arts organisations and those working in the arts".
"We hope that the Welsh government’s response will be able to reflect the urgency and importance of the case."