Culture and Welsh language is essential to help tackle Wales’ biggest challenges
“Public services, as the largest employer in Wales, have a huge contribution to make in developing and enhancing cultural well-being. Culture is the lifeblood of a vibrant society, expressed in the many ways we tell our stories, celebrate, remember the past, entertain ourselves, and imagine the future. Our creative expression helps define who we are, and helps us see the world through the eyes of others."
According to the National Survey for Wales 2018-19, 78% of people said they agreed that it is right that there should be public funding of arts and cultural projects, 85% of people agreed that arts and culture make Wales a better place to live in and 65% agreed that arts and cultural activity helped to enrich the quality of their life.
“However, during times of austerity, culture can be mistakenly seen as a ‘nice to have’ or even a luxury. This is at odds with evidence which shows that valuing arts and creativity is beneficial for our well-being. As an Arts Council of Wales recent report found, ‘Attending an arts event at least once a month during life’s later years reduces the risk of depression by 50%. Visiting a gallery or museum every few months reduces your risk of developing dementia by up to 44% – and the benefit lasts for up to 10 years after you stop.’
“In March last year, I welcomed calls from the Arts Council of Wales for dance classes and art lessons to be made available on prescription and that health boards should make funds available. I also support their recent initiative to work closely with the Welsh NHS Confederation to explore how arts intervention can play a role in Welsh healthcare provision.”
At the launch at the National Eisteddfod today, the Commissioner will call on public bodies to see cultural investment as one of the ways of preventing some of the most serious challenges such as loneliness, obesity, climate change and ill-health.
“I invite public bodies to do more on developing cultural awareness and creativity as core skills and I will be publishing a paper later this year, that will address how the education system can better prepare young people with the skills for the future.
The Commissioner is calling on public bodies in Wales to take bolder steps towards a Wales of Vibrant Culture and Thriving Welsh Language by (amongst other things);
- Develop targeted programmes of work that utilise cultural tools and cultural professionals to support wider issues e.g. Community Safety, Literacy, Poverty, Social Isolation.
- Make use of cultural professionals when developing new large-scale projects, capital builds and redevelopments. such as at Tŷ Pawb in Wrexham, where resident and professionals worked through culture to reimagine the old market place. It now houses a gallery and market traders and has increased footfall.
- Develop and utilise creative tools to address organisational and staff well-being issues, such as drama for stress management, yoga for relaxation etc.
In new guidance being issued to public bodies today she has highlighted good practice in some public bodies and is asking others to follow their lead. The guidance provides practical steps public bodies and others can take to ensure they are successfully delivering on a goal of a Wales of Vibrant Culture and Thriving Welsh Language.