Pwyllgor Diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chyfathrebu - Y Bumed Senedd
Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee - Fifth Senedd02/10/2019
Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol
Committee Members in Attendance
|Bethan Sayed AM||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor|
|Carwyn Jones AM|
|Delyth Jewell AM|
|John Griffiths AM|
|Mick Antoniw AM|
Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol
Others in Attendance
|Antwn Owen-Hicks||Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru|
|Arts Council of Wales|
|Carys Wynne-Morgan||Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru|
|Arts Council of Wales|
|Mark Davyd||Music Venue Trust|
|Music Venue Trust|
|Paul Carr||Prifysgol De Cymru|
|University of South Wales|
Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol
Senedd Officials in Attendance
|Martha Da Gama Howells||Clerc|
Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.
The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.
Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 9:29.
The meeting began at 9:29.
Diolch a chroeso i'r Pwyllgor Diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chyfathrebu y bore yma—cyfarfod cyhoeddus, ac eitem 1 yw cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau.
Thank you and welcome to the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee this morning—a public meeting, and item 1 is introduction, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest.
Dwi wedi derbyn ymddiheuriadau y bore yma gan David Melding, a bydd Carwyn Jones yn dod bach yn hwyrach y bore yma. Oes gan unrhyw un rywbeth i'w ddatgan? Nac oes.
I have received apologies from David Melding this morning, and Carwyn Jones will be arriving a little bit later on this morning. Does anybody have any declarations of interest to make, please? No.
Eitem 2 yw'r ymchwiliad i gerddoriaeth fyw yng Nghymru, a dŷn ni'n croesawu Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru i mewn atom heddiw. Y tystion yw Antwn Owen-Hicks, rheolwr portffolio Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru, a Carys Wynne-Morgan, sef rheolwr portffolio Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru. Croeso i chi'ch dau am ddod mewn atom heddiw. Fel arfer, dŷn ni'n gofyn cwestiynau ar sail themâu gwahanol, os yw hynny'n iawn gyda chi. Dŷn ni'n trio cadw at yr amser—dŷn ni ddim fel arfer, ond mae'n rhaid inni heddiw. Felly, byddaf i'n cychwyn gyda chwestiynau ac wedyn bydd Aelodau Cynulliad eraill yn dod i mewn, os yw hynny'n iawn.
Felly, o ran fy nghwestiwn cyntaf i, allwch chi roi rhyw fath o gefndir inni beth yw'ch barn chi ynglŷn â hinsawdd cerddoriaeth fyw yng Nghymru? Ydy e wedi gwaethygu? Ydy e'n gwella? Beth yw'ch persbectif chi, yn ôl eich gwaith chi yn y maes yma?
Item 2 is the inquiry into live music in Wales, and we welcome the Arts Council of Wales today. The witnesses are Antwn Owen-Hicks, who is a portfolio manager at the Arts Council of Wales, and Carys Wynne-Morgan, who is also a portfolio manager at the Arts Council of Wales. A warm welcome to you, and thank you for joining us today. As is customary, we have themed questions. If it's okay with you, we'll go straight into questions and we'll try to keep to our time slot. We don't usually do that, but we will try to do that this morning. I'll start with questions, then other Assembly Members will join me, if that's okay.
So, in terms of my first question, could you give us some kind of overall view on the background of this? What's the current environment with regard to live music in Wales? Has it improved? Has it deteriorated? What's your perspective according to your work in this field?
Dwi'n mynd i ymateb yn Saesneg, os yw hynny'n iawn, er mwyn bod yn fwy manwl.
I'll respond in English if that's all right, because I'll be able to give more detail.
We'll probably work as a bit of a double act on the questions. Obviously, the health of the live music sector in Wales is an extremely broad subject that crosses multiple genres of different types of music. In some areas, perhaps, the general health of the live music scene is much better than in other parts of Wales. There are more opportunities to experience live music, perhaps, than in other areas of Wales, and with some genres as well, so some genres are far more healthy than others. I think there probably is and has been a growth in Welsh language music in particular, and films like Huw Stephens's Anorac really show how healthy that scene is currently, and reaching way beyond Wales as well. Similarly, the folk and traditional music scene has also developed a great deal over the last 10 years, and a lot of musicians are now making an actual living as traditional musicians, which really hasn't been the case previously, and, again, reaching beyond Wales.
And I think also you need to look at the developments that have been in support for musicians in recent years, so things like the Forté project, originating in Rhondda Cynon Taf, in terms of supporting young musicians to fulfil their potential—so recognising that people aren't automatically able to write amazing songs straight away, or they're not equipped to perform on platforms, so that kind of development and support for younger musicians as they grow and develop. Community Music Wales also provides platforms, and Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias. There's more support, maybe, for people who are emerging in the sector rather than expecting that you're either good enough to perform or you're not. There's this sense of support and platforms have been created in different ways, which, I think, is quite healthy.
Ond dwi ddim wedi clywed, though, os ŷch chi'n meddwl bod y sefyllfa ar hyn o bryd yn waeth neu'n well nag oedd hi o'r blaen. Roedd Proffesor Carr, sydd yn dod i mewn atom, yn dweud bod pethau'n well yn y 1990au cynnar. Roeddwn i'n mynd i lot o gigs ar yr adeg hynny, felly ces i, efallai, bersbectif weddol bositif. Ond ydy e'n dda nawr, neu ydy e'n—?
I hadn't heard, though, whether you thought the situation as it currently is is better or worse than it was. Professor Carr, who is joining us later on, had said that things were better in the early 1990s. I was going to a lot of gigs at that time, so perhaps I had quite a positive perspective on this. But is the situation good now, or is it—?
Mae'n anodd dweud, onid ydy, oherwydd yn y 1990au mi oedd mwy o gigs ymlaen? Roedd yna fwy o gyfleoedd i weld pobl yn perfformio. Ond wedyn hefyd, heddiw mae yna system ddigidol yn galluogi mwy o bobl i gael mynediad at gerddoriaeth yn ehangach, a thu hwnt i Gymru hefyd. Felly, mae cerddoriaeth o Gymru yn cael platfform llawer ehangach na fuasai hi, efallai, wedi ei gael, yn y 1990au hefyd. So, mae'n dibynnu be ŷch chi'n gweld—beth sy'n dda. Mae cerddoriaeth fyw mor bwysig, ond hefyd mae cael y cyfle i gael eich miwsig allan yna hefyd yn bwysig. Felly, mae'n anodd dweud pa un sy'n well. Weithiau mae'n haws yn edrych nôl a mynd, 'The golden days of my gig-going'. Yr un peth â chi yn y 1990au—roeddwn i'n mynd i gigs bob wythnos.
It's difficult to say now, isn't it, because in the 1990s there were more gigs on and there were more opportunities to go and see people perform. But then, looking at the situation today, you have the digital scene, which gives more people access to music more broadly, and beyond Wales also. So, music from Wales has a much broader platform than it's ever had, or did have in the 1990s. So, it depends what your perspective is—how you judge what is good. Live music is so important, yes, but also having the opportunity to get your music out there is also important. So, it's difficult to say which is better. Perhaps it's easier to look back at the golden days of gig-going, as it were. I was like you in the 1990s—I would go to gigs on a weekly basis.
Dŷch chi'n dweud hynny, though, ond daeth Sin City mewn wythnos diwethaf, a gwnaethon nhw ddweud, er bod pobl yn rhoi pethau ymlaen yn ddigidol, mae dal angen iddyn nhw roi'r sioeau ymlaen yn y llefydd bach er mwyn cyrraedd rhywle. Dyw e ddim mor syml â dweud, 'Wel, gallan nhw jest ei roi e ar SoundCloud ac wedyn byddan nhw'n dod yn world superstars.' So, roedd gen i ddiddordeb deall beth yw'r tyndra, felly.
You say that, though, but Sin City came in last week and they said that, even though people put things on the digital platforms, they still have to put these shows on as well in order to get somewhere. It's not just as simple as saying, 'Well, they can just put it on SoundCloud and then they'll become world superstars.' So, I was interested in understanding what the tension is, therefore.
Mae balans i'w gael, onid oes? Mae angen magu perfformwyr sy'n gallu creu cerddoriaeth o safon, ond hefyd magu'r economi leol hefyd, sy'n cefnogi recording studios a phethau fel yna—y bobl sydd ddim, efallai, yn berfformwyr ond y bobl sy'n cyfrannu ar yr ecoleg yn ehangach. Felly, mae e'n anodd dweud, ond yn bendant mae angen cyfleoedd i bobl berfformio ac i ddatblygu eu crefft nhw, boed hynny mewn canolfan leol neu yn y Motorpoint. Mae yna wahanol lefelau sydd angen eu datblygu.
There's a balance needed, isn't there? You need to develop musicians who can create high-quality music, but then you also need to develop the local economy, which supports the recording studios and so forth—so those people who may not be performing but people who are contributing to the ecology more broadly. So, it is difficult to say, but certainly there is a need for opportunities for people to perform and to hone their craft, whether that would be in a local venue or at the Motorpoint, because there are different levels that are needed for development.
Mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi dweud eu bod nhw'n mynd i wneud rhyw fath o system mapio o'r hyn sydd yn bodoli ar hyn o bryd. Dŷn ni wedi clywed yr wythnos diwethaf eto fod y bobl sydd yn rheoli'r clybiau yma ddim wedi hyd yn oed gael unrhyw fath o gyfathreb gan Lywodraeth Cymru ar hyn o bryd i wneud y gwaith hynny. Ydych chi'n ymwybodol o'r broses, neu ydych chi wedi cael ymwneud â hi ar hyn o bryd?
The Welsh Government have said that they're going to undertake some sort of mapping exercise of what currently exists. We heard last week again that the people who are managing these clubs haven't even received any communication from the Welsh Government as it stands to do that work. Are you aware of that process or have you been involved in the process so far?
We're aware that Creative Wales are going to undertake a survey of grass-roots music venues, but beyond that, at the moment, I'm not sure if they've actually begun that survey. I know that they've been in touch with the live music trust, but we're not aware at the moment that that survey has been started or undertaken yet.
Ydych chi'n credu bod hynny'n rhywbeth y byddech chi'n ei weld o ddefnydd?
Do you believe that that's something that would be useful?
Absolutely. Grass-roots music venues tend to be private businesses. They tend to be businesses that are not limited by guarantee or charities, for instance, that we would normally support through the arts council. At the same time, understanding the breadth of venues where live music is happening gives us a good understanding and a much stronger awareness of the general health of the music industry. That said, we support an awful lot of music activity in small community venues right throughout Wales through our Night Out scheme, for instance. So, they're not grass-roots music venues per se, and there are very few of those in rural communities, but there are community halls, there are places where people do put on live music. It might not be a regular occurrence—it might be six concerts, six gigs a year—but it's an important access point for people to hear live music in their communities.
Y cwestiwn olaf gen i, yn glou, yw: ydych chi wedi helpu unrhyw wyliau yng Nghymru—festivals—o ran sut dŷch chi wedi ymwneud â nhw ac unrhyw fath o geisiadau?
A final question from me, quickly, is whether you've assisted any festivals in Wales, in terms of how you've been involved in those festivals and any bids to you.
Mae yna ring-fenced fund yn arbennig ar gyfer gwyliau gyda ni yng Nghyngor Celfyddydau Cymru, a dŷn ni wedi gwario, dros y saith mlynedd diwethaf ers iddo fe fodoli, dros £1 filiwn y flwyddyn ar wyliau Cymru. Wedyn, dŷn ni’n gweithio gyda nhw mewn ffyrdd weddol wahanol, yn dibynnu ar natur yr ŵyl. Felly, buasai gŵyl fel Green Man, dŷn ni’n ei chefnogi—dŷn ni’n ei chefnogi i ddatblygu talent Gymreig er mwyn gallu rhoi platfform iddyn nhw ar lwyfan Green Man. Ond mae yna gefnogaeth i’r artistiaid yna drwy’r flwyddyn—maen nhw’n mynd i Lundain i gael industry contacts ac maen nhw’n cael eu cyflwyno i asiantau. Felly, dŷn ni ddim yn cefnogi Green Man i alluogi llwyfannau perfformio; dŷn ni’n ei chefnogi i ddatblygu cyfleoedd i fandiau Cymru, a hefyd i wneud yn siŵr bod y maes yn ddwyieithog. Mae dwyieithrwydd mor bwysig, actually; y tro diwethaf roedden ni yn Green Man, roedd pob band ar y llwyfan wedi dweud, ‘Croeso i Gymru’ a ‘Diolch yn fawr’ rywbryd yn ystod eu set. Roedd e’n amazing, roeddwn i’n meddwl.
Wedyn, dŷn ni’n cefnogi pethau fel North Wales International Music Festival sy’n fwy clasurol ei natur, ac mae bach o jazz a trad hefyd, ond maen nhw’n gwneud lot o waith ymestyn yn y gymuned leol. So, er bod yr ŵyl ymlaen am wythnos, maen nhw’n datblygu côr cymunedol a mynediad i glywed cerddoriaeth wahanol yn ystod y flwyddyn. So, dŷn ni’n defnyddio gwahanol wyliau i wahanol bwrpasau, mewn ffordd, yn hynny. Wedyn, dŷn ni’n cefnogi pethau fel gŵyl Fishguard, er mwyn bod yna gerddoriaeth fyw yn digwydd mewn ardal o Gymru lle nad oes theatr amlwg neu bortffolio o gleientiaid yn bodoli. So, i ni, maen nhw’n cyfrannu at iechyd y sector, ac er efallai dŷch chi ddim ond yn eu gweld am benwythnos neu am wythnos, mae gyda nhw cyfraniad ehangach i’w wneud i economi ac ecoleg cerddoriaeth Cymru dros y flwyddyn.
We do have a ring-fenced fund for festivals in the Arts Council of Wales, and, over the past seven years since it's existed, we've spent over £1 million per year on festivals in Wales. Then, we work with them in varying ways, depending on the nature of the festival. So, a festival such as Green Man, which we support—we support them to develop Welsh talent in order to provide a platform for them on a Green Man stage. But then there's support for those artists throughout the year—they have an opportunity to go to London to get industry contacts and they're introduced to agencies. So, it's not just a matter of supporting Green Man to enable performances; we also help them to help Welsh bands to have opportunities, and also to ensure that this takes place in a bilingual way. Bilingualism is so important, and the last time I was at Green Man, nearly all the bands on the stage said, 'Croeso i Gymru'—welcome to Wales—or 'Diolch yn fawr' at some point in the set, which I thought was great.
Then, we support things like the North Wales International Music Festival, which is more classical, and with jazz and trad music also, and they do quite a bit of outreach work in the community. So, although it's only on for a week, they develop a community choir and access to hear different kinds of music throughout the year. So, we use various festivals for various purposes, in some sense. And then we support things such as Fishguard festival, so that there's live music taking place in a part of Wales where there is no obvious theatre or portfolio client in existence. So, we do look at how these contribute to the health of the sector, and although they're only on for a week or a weekend, they can make a broader contribution to the economy and the ecology of Welsh music over the year.
We also support—it's important to say, I think—Focus Wales in Wrexham, which is a relatively new festival but has developed very quickly. It very much supports the contemporary music scene and, again, similar to Green Man, has a much broader developmental activity, I suppose, as well. Outside of Wales, we support them through Wales Arts International to take Welsh artists to international showcase opportunities in North America, in Asia, and that seems to have been particularly successful as a development that perhaps wasn't really happening before, apart from some big showcases like South by Southwest, for instance. So, we're able to actually take Welsh artists internationally perhaps much, much more than we were doing previously.
And supporting them to be international-ready, because there's a difference between playing a small gig in your community venue and being well liked and supported to actually being able to represent Wales on an international stage. I'm not aware of everything that they do, but it's as much about supporting people that they see with potential to reach an international-platform standard.
Iawn. Gwnawn ni gysylltu â nhw hefyd. Y cwestiynau nesaf—John Griffiths.
Thank you. We'll get in touch with them as well. So, the next questions are from John Griffiths.
Diolch, Cadeirydd. I've got some questions on support and advice, and to begin with, a general one, really: is enough available, do you think?
Is there ever enough of anything available? [Laughter.] I think there's a balance to be had, isn't there?
I think perhaps, again, in some ways, there's more available now than there has been previously with projects like the Forté project and the Horizons/Gorwelion scheme that we run with the BBC. We offer really targeted advice and support for artists—Forté particularly, within Rhondda Cynon Taf, but also the broader south Wales Valleys—supporting young emerging artists, helping them to develop their careers, some of whom then go on to be involved in the Horizons/Gorwelion scheme, which enables them to go that little bit further and to take their careers to some bigger stages and to bigger UK festivals. So, there is that support.
We also support, through our music industry development fund, which can support marketing and promotion and public relations—those kinds of radio plugging et cetera. So, there are, perhaps, more organisations doing that kind of support. There's also PYST, who are working with record labels right across Wales, to support a really broad range of Welsh language artists in particular, and providing them with agency services and, again, promotional services, marketing, distribution, which hasn't ever happened before in that co-ordinated way.
And I think we need to recognise that with the music industry as well, it's twofold support that's needed. I think it's about the creative support and the advice on how to develop your creative practice and become the best you can be, whether that's a songwriter or a performer or a sound engineer. But it's also about developing the business side of the practice as well, because, actually, no band is going to exist just by being the most amazing band; they also have to be able to promote themselves, market themselves, get the gigs, tour-book, know what a good sound recording is and how to get that out there. So, it's a much broader—. It's both creative and business that needs support, and to date—I don't know the data—but people like Business Wales do provide some kind of business planning support, but whether it's relevant enough to the music industry, and whether the organisations that we support cover across the whole of Wales—. So, some of the support, like the Forté project, has grown from RCT to a Valleys' support. How could that spread to a national coverage?
And they are looking to do that—
Yes, but it's that kind of—. I'm quite aware that some of the support is in pockets.
Okay. So, you think there's more support and advice around today than previous years, although, of course, the Welsh Music Foundation ceased to have funding from Welsh Government some five years or so ago now. Did that leave a gap at all?
Yes, it did, but then I think things have grown organically from need. So, things like Forte have grown from a gap in the market and a need and a development opportunity.
Our music industry development fund was established really as a direct result of the Welsh Music Foundation not existing anymore in a way. So there was a recognition that we needed to be able to plug gaps. I think the development of FOCUS Wales as a showcase festival and a conference with advice and support for artists during the conference again is another example of where organisations are filling perhaps a gap that was previously there.
And also not trying to blanket-approach it. Because the need of maybe young people in the south Wales Valleys communities is quite different from the Cardiff need or the Gwynedd need. You can't apply a Valleys model to Gwynedd or Anglesey. It would need adapting, so actually that sense of 'How do we make it appropriate for the local communities in which it serves?' is really important.
Okay. In terms of music venues, would you say that the Arts Council of Wales provides much helpful advice?
It depends on the music venue, I think.
I must say, in terms of the ones that we have spoken to, it hasn't been a very positive picture in terms of the help that they feel they've had or is available from the Arts Council of Wales.
We obviously support a wide range of presenting venues, and they have a wide programme of activity that usually includes a lot of music. I suppose if we're talking about grass-roots music venues, then generally because they're private businesses, we generally don't support those kinds of organisations. But having said that, we are supporting the developments at Clwb Ifor Bach, for instance, with their expansion programme to extend the venue and to help them provide the longer term viability of that as a music venue. So, we are supporting that with capital funding.
Last week we heard from Le Public Space in Newport and Sin City in Swansea that they hadn't had any contact, really, with the Arts Council of Wales, and they also felt that the forms that had to be filled in to apply for available support were very daunting and off-putting.
Yes, well that's one of the reasons we're currently undergoing a lottery review, and one of the things that we're looking at is how we simplify and make more accessible our funding. So, that's something that's already on our radar.
I suppose in terms of what Antwn was saying, most of our support, because all of it is public money, tends to go to support charitable organisations. We very rarely support commercial ventures, unless they come specifically to us with a project that is quite bespoke.
But if they don't know you exist, how do they come to you?
I think we need to look at our accessibility and how we develop relationships.
Because that was the thing, I think, that I picked up was that you're helping Clwb Ifor Bach, but Sin City or Le Public Space might want that, but they just wouldn't know what to do, from the experience that they gave us. I'm not saying that's my experience of you; I'm saying that's what they were implying.
It's really valid for us to hear that, and I think we need to look at, when we're looking at the music industry development fund, how we move that forward and how we make it more accessible.
Okay. In terms of the way that the arts council funds by particular art form, do you think that music is getting its fair share?
Music in general is, if we look right across music.
And probably more so than a number of other art forms.
And the vast majority of that is classical music. That's where the majority of our support goes. We are and have been very aware of needing to reach music that is non-classical, so, pop, rock, jazz, folk and traditional, and part of the development of the music industry development scheme as was was very much targeted at those sectors. Over the—I'll just have a look. Over the three years that we were running the scheme, we supported 35 applications to £285,000. Most of those were quite small grants for bands and artists to develop their practice, to develop their promotional materials, as you know, and that's support that is only available to that particular sector. We also support through programme support. We support venues, and our network of venues, some of the Arts Portfolio Wales venues, but also other theatre venues that apply for programme support, and that programme support invariably includes music activity.
Our portfolio also includes Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias and Community Music Wales, which are developing support on a local level for music or music opportunities on a more local level and projects in communities. Some of our community arts organisations, like Head for Arts, will apportion some of their funding to music activities. They run a Celtic cafe, for example, in Blaenavon Workmen's Hall, so there are pockets of our portfolio that are specifically targeting music, even if their name is not or they're not exclusively music deliverers.
I think, we have had quite a focus on supporting folk and traditional music, particularly through international showcasing and events like the Lorient festival, for example, Celtic Connections, Womex. But, as a sector, it is still a very small sector in terms of the funding that is allocated to it. It's much more than it perhaps has been, and there's been a definite growth. We're seeing a growth in the activity, and perhaps there is scope to look at how we take that forward and develop it further.
In terms of the music industry development funding stream, specifically, could you tell us how much of that has gone to music venues?
I wouldn't be able to say specifically on music venues. It was a scheme open to music venues, but, actually, probably very few have come through the scheme to apply for it, and I don't know the rationale for that. It's been generally targeted more at artist development, and developing the artists more than the venues themselves, although it was a scheme that was open to venues, although I'm not aware of any specific cases.
Might you be able to provide us with figures? It would be useful, I think.
In terms of the general division of funding between venues and artists, is the concentration very much on artists rather than venues, in general, in terms of arts council activity?
I suppose our prime focus is arts development, artist development and particularly through the music industry development fund. Obviously, through our programme support, we do support venues through our portfolio as revenue funding and also through the lottery programme support, we support a wide range of venues. But perhaps, as we said earlier, less so the small, grass-roots commercial businesses.
Yes, and our Night Out scheme supports activities to take place in community halls and social clubs and suchlike. But the community there decides what their programme is. The music they programme is different by community need.
Just finally then, Chair, in terms of what Arts Council England are doing, and indeed what tends to happen in Europe generally, there's a sense from some of the evidence we've received—for example, Music Venue Trust evidence—that in Wales music venues are not being supported to the extent that they are elsewhere. For example, there's the Arts Council England's new capital fund for grass-roots venues. So, are music venues in Wales losing out in comparison to the support that's available across the border and elsewhere?
It's a very new scheme for England. They've only just really started. We were running our music industry development fund for a much longer time, which was open to venues, but we've had quite low take-up, I think, from venues.
Did you do an analysis as to why that was?
No, not yet.
Not yet. So when—?
We're in the process of relaunching the lottery programme, and the music industry development fund is one that we are looking at and how we might take that forward from April next year.
I think it's something we need to watch, really, in terms of what's happening with Arts Council England and the Music Venue Trust and that scheme there to support grass-roots venues and how that develops and how that works, and it might be something that we need to look at.
You could argue or factor in that people have not been aware of it, but actually we have had support available to music venues for a much longer time. How we, maybe, promote that and link in with those people is a question that we need to reflect on. But I think we've got a mechanism in place that allows us to support grass-roots music venues as well as artists to get themselves into a position where they are able to play and develop to their full potential. So, the reflection is more on how we make that more accessible, more open and more exciting, then, for people to appeal to, rather than developing a new scheme just because England are doing it. I would argue that we've already got the scheme; we need to look at—. There are other underlying issues, clearly, that are making it not be as successful as it could be.
Obviously, there's only a certain amount of money available in general, anyway, isn't there, and if you are successful in finding more resource or making sure that music venues access more resource, then obviously there'll be less for other aspects of that type of work.
Yes, and we're not the only people in the picture. We're one part of a much bigger jigsaw. It's how we work collaboratively with others to make sure that the right provision is out there and the right support is available out there, and using the right people to give the right advice and support, because we're not going to be specialists in the commercial music industry in the same way that the BBC would be. And how do we nurture those relationships that we've got and find others?
Yes. The Arts Council of Wales is an organisation with considerable capacity and resources compared to others, isn't it? So in terms of co-ordinating, linking and building networks, I guess there's some responsibility on the Arts Council of Wales to do the heavy lifting, isn't there? Would you accept that?
It depends on how you view that, because some people would take it as us stepping on the commercial sector's toes when we are primarily a public sector organisation. So it depends on how—. We have a responsibility; whether we have a responsibility to lead that or whether we have a responsibility to work with things like the Core Cities report that Cardiff council is involved in and the music sector stuff that's developing, and being an active partner, or are we the ones who should lead it? I think that's something we need to debate, because I think some people would see it as us wading in and stepping on toes.
Okay. Thank you.
Symud ymlaen nawr i gynllunio gyda Delyth Jewell.
Moving on now to planning with Delyth Jewell.
You say in your evidence this really interesting idea that music is an ecosystem. Do you think, or do you have a view on whether the planning system puts any barriers in the way of that?
In what way?
In terms of looking at how—. When music venues are granted planning permission, do you think that there's more than local authorities could be doing to encourage the development of this ecosystem, then, or do you think there are barriers in the way at the moment?
I think one of the things we'd advocate is around the business rates and music venues being seen in the same way that other cultural venues are seen, because they are predominantly cultural. We've seen examples where—. To use Clwb Ifor Bach as an example, they have to put on club nights in order to support and sustain their live music provision, but they would do much more live music if they were able to because the rates would—. That's one example, and I'm sure that's not the only one, but that would be an obvious example of where local authorities could potentially support venues to be more sustainable.
Because you've mentioned business rates, it probably makes sense for me to—
No, it makes more sense to do these things organically as things come up rather than say, 'I'm going to stop you there.' [Laughter.]
I didn't answer the wrong question, then, did I? [Laughter.]
Just do it now.
So, in terms of the current business rates situation for live venues, what do you think the impact of the 2017 re-evaluation of rateable values has been?
This is hearsay rather than actual knowledge. You hear that places like Buffalo have shut down because of it, and it's one of the places—. If Adele hadn't sang at Buffalo club, she might not be the multi-Grammy-winning singer that she is.
I didn't know she'd sang at Buffalo.
Yes. It was one of her very early gigs. So, that's the kind of, you know—. But it's hearsay; we don't know that's the reason.
It's a similar situation with Central Station in Wrexham, I think. I think there are definitely economic issues that have impacted on some of those grass-roots venues, and business rates, inevitably, will fall into that. I'm not saying that they're the only reason, but those kinds of businesses run a very, very tight ship, so I think if there's flexibility within business rates to see those venues as cultural assets and cultural venues, rather than pubs and clubs, then I think there's—
And to be able to support more experimental nights, so you don't have to rely on getting a name or a more supported band; they can provide opportunities for newer talent to come to just have platforms to play and exist. It's about how they exist as a business, and rates have an impact on that.
And going back to planning—although I appreciate that these two things are closely interlinked. So, culture is a key component of the well-being of future generations Act. Do you think that, again, local authorities could be doing more to reflect that with regards to planning, or with regards to anything?
Yes. I've just completed a secondment with the future generations commissioner, looking at the culture and Welsh language goal of the Act, and as part of that I wrote a journey on the cultural and Welsh language goals to support local authorities to be able to implement their obligations against the Act more fully, and there's a whole section in there about the economic system and how planning can be influenced, or how planning should be perceived differently in some aspects. I can send you the link to that, if that would be useful, because there are steps that we'd expect local authorities to take through that. But it also gives the commissioner an opportunity to start monitoring how local authorities are doing against their obligations to the culture goal of the Act. Planning certainly features heavily in that in terms of not just using section 106, but being imaginative and innovative about how they use the power that they have in terms of planning to effect change.
Great. Thank you. And finally, in terms of the agent of change principle—. As far as I understand it, that requires a venue, for example, to think about the impact of any changes—or was it that it requires local authorities to think about the impact—? Basically, for people to think longer term about changes. Do you think that's working in practice?
I think it only came into force fully in 2018. I don't think we've fully seen the potential that it has to offer. It's certainly kind of—.
I know people, certainly from Cardiff—an example that a lot of people use where this perhaps would have been a very useful act was in relation to the Point in Cardiff Bay, where it was a very lively music venue. They built a lot of flats right opposite, and the impact was that the venue closed and it's no longer a music venue. I think if that had been happening now, the people developing the flats would have had to have considered the existence of the music venue in the first place, and there would have had to have been actions put in place to ensure that the venue—
Soundproofing better, or—
Yes, so that it was still able to continue as a music venue.
I think we've got lessons to learn from the night-time economy work that's happening in London and some other UK cities around the collective view on a development, and understanding that a night-time economy has as much to offer a city as the day time economy, and how people should work together to support—. That would include developers and planning as much as—. And looking at how things are constructed so that it allows people to have a safe evening economy, and how people support other businesses to stay open later, or—. I think there's lessons to be learnt as they develop that concept—how can we maybe learn lessons from those kinds of initiatives when it's very much a collaborative and collective view being taken, and people are working together to achieve a vision for areas of the city. That would apply equally in towns in Wales, potentially.
Interesting. Okay. Diolch.
Okay. Trwyddedu—Mick Antoniw.
Okay. Licensing—Mick Antoniw.
Just a few points with regard to the regulatory and licensing regime. The music Act had an impact in terms of deregulating or reducing the regulation in respect of some venues. What sort of impact has that had? Have you noticed any significant impact in terms of the increased use of venues, or availability of venues, as a consequence?
I have no particular evidence of that. Obviously, we're aware that licensing is only needed for certain venues, over a capacity of 500, and there are conditions around the licensing. But I'm not aware of any particular issues that have arisen.
The intention was that it would open up venues, make it a lot easier, and it would improve the accessibility of venues for starting musicians and so on. Any views on the effect of that?
We're not sure of the effect of it. We know that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport are currently doing a review of that Act, aren't they, at the moment. It published an interim assessment in 2014, which kind of said it was too early to say, basically. So, it will be interesting to read what they come up with at the end of this year. Again, it's all hearsay. A potential benefit would be not having to apply for a temporary events notice—community groups not having that admin cost. It's practical things rather than a definite 'We know that this has happened.'
Maybe some of the other evidence sessions will be able to answer that a little bit better. In terms of the impact of licensing more generally, one of the issues that, of course, has arisen is that the venues need to make a profit and need to fund themselves, and the access of under-18s, and so on. It's the age-old question of the mixture of music and alcohol. Do you have a view on issues around that?
It's difficult for the Arts Council of Wales to have a view on alcohol.
It's difficult, because for so many—particularly grass-roots—music venues, they often are bars; they often happen in bar environments, and secondary sales through bars is a huge source of income to support the ongoing activity of the music.
It's not something you've specifically had to address.
No, but we do recognise that young people—
You recognise that, and there will be others that we can obviously ask. Just one final point, then, just for some comments on it. The issue of racial profiling has obviously arisen in respect of venues and the impact on live music in terms of the cost on it. This was something that I hadn't really been aware of that was actually happening. It's obviously been raised in other parliaments as well. Is this something that you're aware of and has been given any consideration by you, in terms of the potential impact and how it's applied?
I think we're aware of the issue. We're not aware of the issue occurring specifically in Wales, and it's not something that's been particularly raised with us.
We are aware, from other evidence, that it has been raised as being something that is being discussed, though there seems to be a reluctance to talk more openly about it, but it's obviously something that is, potentially, very, very serious, very sensitive. But it's not something that you've addressed, or you've had to deal with?
It's nothing that we've had to deal with directly, but for any people that have funding from us, accessibility is one of our criteria, and how we support different artists.
I'll pursue that, then, with others that we're seeing later on.
The issue on licensing was that we were hearing last week that in Newport, Le Public Space seemed to have a better relationship with their licensing teams than other areas. Have you had any experience of a divergence of attitudes, or opinions from different licensing authorities, that would help us understand why Newport seems to be more progressive than other areas in terms of the flexibility in the system?
Well, obviously, Cardiff in particular did a consultation into developing as a music city and is developing a music board, which will be a—my understanding is that it will be a broad church of people across the music scene in Cardiff and that will be able to advise the city on how to best support the development of music. And so—
You don't have direct experience—that's what I'm trying to understand.
We don't have direct experience.
Okay. Fine. Just so we know.
Ocê. Symud ymlaen nawr at ddatblygu dawn. Carwyn Jones.
Okay. We'll move on now to talent development. Carwyn Jones.
Diolch, Gadeirydd. Bore da i'r ddau ohonoch chi. Gaf i ofyn cwestiwn ynglŷn â'r ffrwd talent? Ydyn ni'n gwneud digon er mwyn hybu talent—nid dim ond eu hybu nhw ynglŷn â'u datblygiad personol, ond hefyd eu hybu nhw ynglŷn ag adnoddau a hefyd lleoliadau i ymarfer a hefyd i chwarae? Rŷn ni'n gwybod, wrth gwrs, os edrychwn ni ar y byd chwaraeon, beth sy'n hollbwysig yw gallwch chi gael y talent, ond os dyw'r rhwydwaith ddim yna o ddatblygu'r talent hynny, fyddech chi byth yn cyrraedd y lefel y byddech chi petasai'r rhwydwaith yna. So, yn gyntaf, fe fyddwn i'n gofyn: a ydy'r rhwydwaith yna?
A jest un syniad y byddwn i'n hoff o gael eich barn arno. Ynglŷn â'r iaith Gymraeg, mae yna leoliadau ar draws Cymru, lle mae pobl yn gallu mynd i siarad Cymraeg. Maen nhw'n lleoliadau diwylliannol ac maen nhw'n lleoliadau lle mae pobl yn gallu siarad Cymraeg yn naturiol. Mae'r lleoliadau hynny wedi cael eu helpu'n ariannol gan y Llywodraeth. Oes yna achos felly i greu yr un fath o strwythur yn y byd miwsig? Nawr, dwi'n gwybod bydd rhai yn dweud, 'Wel, na, na, gweithred fasnachol yw miwsig.' Ond nid felly mae e, nage? Dŷn ni'n gwybod, yn enwedig pan mae bandiau'n dechrau, dŷn nhw ddim yn gwneud arian. Bach iawn o arian maen nhw'n ei gael yn bersonol.
Rŷn ni wedi clywed tystiolaeth gan Glwb Ifor Bach yn enwedig, eu bod nhw yn colli arian lle maen nhw eisiau cynnal cyngerdd—gig—gydag efallai band newydd, sydd eisiau cael y profiad, ond, wrth gwrs, yn fasnachol dyw e ddim yn gweithio. So, felly, oes yna unrhyw gefnogaeth am ryw fath o rwydwaith lle byddai lleoliadau wedi cael eu penodi ar draws Cymru fel lleoliadau i hybu talent miwsig a'r sector cerdd—gwerin, neu unrhyw fath o gerdd sydd ddim yn cael ei ystyried fel cerdd fasnachol? A ydy hwnna'n rhywbeth a allai gael ei ystyried? Ac, wrth gwrs, y cwestiwn arall sy'n codi wedyn yw: mae'n hollbwysig bod y lleoliadau hynny ar draws Cymru—a fyddai, felly, rhwydwaith fel yna yn rhywbeth fyddai'n helpu i sicrhau bod y ffrwd talent yn dal i lifo? Mae sawl cwestiwn yn fanna.
Thank you, Chair. Good morning both of you. May I ask a question about the pipeline of talent? Are we doing enough to develop talent, not just to foster talent in terms of personal development, but also to develop them in terms of resources and rehearsal spaces and where they are able to play? We know, of course, that in the world of sport, what is vital is, you may have the talent, but if the network of talent development isn't there, you're never going to reach the level that you would, should that network be there. So, first of all I'd ask whether that network is there.
And just one idea I'd like to seek your view on. In terms of the Welsh language, there are venues throughout Wales where people can go and speak Welsh. They're cultural venues and they're venues where people can speak Welsh naturally. Those venues have been financially supported by the Government. Is there, therefore, a case to create the same type of structure for music? Now I know that some might say, 'Well, no, music is a commercial activity'. But it's not quite like that is it? We know that, particularly when bands start out, they're not making any money. They get very little money personally.
We've heard evidence, particularly from Clwb Ifor Bach, that they lose money when they want to hold a gig or a concert with a new band who are looking for experience, but, of course, commercially it's not viable. So, is there any support for some kind of network where venues would be designated throughout Wales as venues for music, talent or promotion, whether we're talking of folk music or some kind of music that isn't seen as commercial music? Is that something that could be considered? And then, the other question arising: it's crucial that those venues are distributed throughout Wales, so would such a network be something that would assist to ensure that the talent pipeline is still flowing? I know there were lots of questions there.
Ble i ddechrau?
Where to start?
Mae'r cwestiwn cyntaf am y ffrwd: ydy'r ffrwd yn dal i fod yna? Oes yna ddigon o adnoddau mewn lle i sicrhau bod y ffrwd yn dal i lifo? Ac yn ail, oes yna achos i feddwl am ryw fath o rwydwaith ar draws Cymru o glybiau neu leoliadau lle mae bandiau newydd yn cael eu hybu i gael gigs—i chwarae gigs—heb fod y lleoliad yn gorfod meddwl trwy'r amser, 'Mae'n rhaid inni wneud arian mas o hwn'?
The first question is about that pipeline: is it still there? Are there enough resources in place to ensure that that pipeline is still flowing? And then secondly, is there a case for thinking of some kind of network throughout Wales of clubs or venues, where new bands can be promoted and be able to have gigs where they can perform, without the venue always having to think, 'Oh we have to make money out of this'?
Dŷch chi'n gallu dod nôl atom ni os ydych chi eisiau.
You can come back to us if you want.
I ddechrau, dwi'n credu bod yna ffrwd. Mae yna lwyth o bobl â thalent dros Gymru. Fel rŷn ni'n magu a meithrin hynny yw'r broblem. Dwi'n credu bod y lleihad yn arian cyhoeddus i awdurdodau lleol wedi cwtogi pethau fel clybiau ieuenctid—llefydd yr oedd efallai pobl ifanc yn naturiol yn mynychu er mwyn datblygu talent neu jest cael cyfathrebu â'i gilydd er mwyn medru ffeindio pobl eraill oedd efallai â diddordeb mewn chwarae mewn band, neu beth bynnag. So, mae yna bethau fel hynny sydd wedi achosi dirywiad efallai o bobl yn dod at ei gilydd.
To start with, I think there is a pipeline. There are many people with talent across Wales. It's about how we develop and foster that—that's the problem. I think there's been a decrease in public funding for local authorities and they've cut things such as youth clubs—places where perhaps young people attended to develop their talents or just to be able to communicate with each other and to be able to find other people perhaps who had an interest in playing in a band or whatever. So, there are things like that that have caused a decline, perhaps, in terms of people coming together.
Wedyn, mae pethau fel y ffordd y mae awdurdodau lleol efallai'n defnyddio gofodau gwag a'r gallu i hybu creadigrwydd oddi mewn iddyn nhw—efallai nid yn gyfyngedig i gerddoriaeth chwaith, ond fel y mae awdurdodau lleol yn edrych ar ddatblygu talent ac ar ddefnyddio'r adnoddau sydd gyda nhw yn lleol er mwyn magu a meithrin talent ehangach. Dwi'n credu bod yna rôl gyda nhw i'w chwarae yn yr ecoleg ehangach.
Dwi'n credu bod yna rywbeth ynglŷn â meithrin y talent yna a datblygu adnoddau, megis Forté sy'n gweithio yn RCT, a sut y mae hynny'n datblygu ffyrdd i bobl weithio ar y cyd, ac i ymestyn i ardaloedd difreintiedig a rhoi cyfleoedd i blant a phobl ifanc na fuasai efallai yn gallu talu i fynychu gwersi neu sydd heb adnoddau teuluol o'u cwmpas nhw.
So, mae yna bocedi o waith da yn digwydd, ond fel ŷch chi'n sôn am y rhwydwaith ehangach yna dros Gymru, mae hynny'n rhywbeth y dylem ni fod yn chwilio amdano, a ble mae'r platfformau bach er mwyn galluogi pobl i gael y cyfle cyntaf hynny—. Ac efallai nid o reidrwydd bod hynny mewn canolfannau miwsig—mae'n ehangach na hynny, onid ydy? Mae weithiau yn ganolfan gymunedol neu ar ddiwrnod sioe neu garnifal neu rywbeth fel yna, lle mae pobl yn cael cyfle i gael perfformio. Mae angen i bobl gydlynu hynny, onid oes, er mwyn bod yna ffyniant yn digwydd?
Then, there are things such as the way that local authorities perhaps use vacant spaces and the ability to promote creativity within those spaces—perhaps not just limited to music either, but it's about local authorities looking at developing talent and using the resources that they have locally to develop and foster talent, in the wider sense. I think there's a role for them to play in that wider ecology.
I think there's something about fostering that talent and developing resources, such as Forté that works in RCT, and how that develops ways for people to collaborate, and to extend that to disadvantaged areas and provide opportunities for children and young people who might not be able to pay to attend lessons or who don't have those family resources around them.
So, there are pockets of good work happening, but when you mention that wider network across Wales, that is something that we should be seeking, and where those small platforms are to enable people to have that first opportunity—. And perhaps that shouldn't be in music centres—it's on a wider footing than that, isn't it? It is sometimes a community centre or on a show or carnival day, where people have the opportunity to be able to perform. People need to co-ordinate that, don't they, so that there is prosperity?
Jest un cwestiwn arall wrthyf i. Gaf i ofyn, felly, jest i chi feddwl am hynny, a ddim ystyried ateb nawr a chael cynllun yn barod ar y ford, ond jest i ystyried efallai os byddech chi'n fodlon rhoi tystiolaeth ysgrifenedig ynglŷn ag a ydy hwnna'n rhywbeth sy'n werth edrych arno, neu a ydy'r problemau yn ormodol i gymharu â'r manteision.
Yr ail gwestiwn—mae'r cwestiwn nesaf llawer rhwyddach, a hynny yw: dŷn ni wedi gweld cwymp yn y nifer sydd yn cymryd cerdd fel TGAU; ydy hynny wedi cael unrhyw effaith, ydych chi'n credu, ar y ffrwd yna o dalent ynglŷn â—a ydy'r ffrwd newydd wedi lleihau o gwbl?
Just one other question from me. May I just ask you to think about that; I'm not expecting an answer now or for you to have a plan ready for us, but just something to consider—if you would be willing to perhaps give us written evidence as to whether that is something that's worth looking at, or if the problems are too great compared with what the advantages could be.
The next question is much easier, and that is: we've seen a reduction in the number of people studying music GCSE. Do you believe that has had an impact on that pipeline of talent in relation to—has that new pipeline decreased at all?
Wrth gwrs mae e wedi lleihau, ond mae hynny ar draws y pynciau creadigol yn gyffredinol. Dŷn ni ddim jest yn gweld hyn mewn cerddoriaeth; dŷch chi'n gweld e mewn celf weledol. Dyw e ddim jest wedi'i gyfyngu i gerddoriaeth. Mae yna efallai broblem ehangach yna yn sgil yn draddodiadol mi fuasai cerdd TGAU wedi bod yn gerdd glasurol. Felly, mae hynny efallai wedi rhoi pobl off. Mae wedi newid, ond mae yna, efallai, farn ar TGAU ei bod yn fwy clasurol, ac os nad ydych chi'n chwarae'r piano i radd 5 fedrwch chi ddim cyfrannu. Ond mae hynny'n agwedd, a dwi'n credu bod rôl gan Careers Wales i'w chwarae fan hyn hefyd, oherwydd mae angen i bobl sy'n rhoi cyngor ar yrfaoedd sylweddoli bod gyrfaoedd creadigol mor eang. Os oes diddordeb gyda chi mewn cerddoriaeth, mi fedrwch chi fod yn chwarae mewn band, ond hefyd mi fedrwch chi fod yn gwneud y sain cefn llwyfan neu recordio neu hybu cerddoriaeth—bod y cyfleoedd yna mor eang. Efallai bod gyda ni ddarlun bach iawn o beth mae gyrfa gerddorol yn meddwl.
Felly, mae yna waith gyda ni i'w wneud er mwyn codi diddordeb ym myd cerddoriaeth. Dŷn ni'n gwybod bod llwyth o bobl ifanc yn chwarae cerddoriaeth ac yn gwrando ar gerddoriaeth, ond dyw hynny ddim yn ymddangos yn y nifer sy'n cymryd cerddoriaeth fel TGAU. So, mae'n rhaid inni wneud rhywbeth am hynny. Ond mae'n ehangach na jest—mae nifer o broblemau bach yn bodoli ynghylch hynny.
Yes, of course it has, but that's across all of the creative subjects in general. We're not just seeing it with regard to music, we're seeing it in visual arts and so on. It isn't just limited to music. There are perhaps wider problems as traditionally music GCSE would have been classical music perhaps. So, that's possibly put people off. It has changed now, but there is a perception, perhaps, of music GCSE that it's more classical, and if you don't play the piano to grade 5 then you can't contribute to it. But that's an attitude, and I think that there is a role for Careers Wales to play here as well, because people who give careers advice need to realise that creative careers are so wide-ranging. If you have an interest in music, you can play in a band, yes, but you can also do the backstage sound, or promote music and so on—the opportunities are there are they're so wide-ranging. So, perhaps we have quite a narrow idea of what a music career means.
So, there is work for us to do to increase interest in the world of music. We know that a whole host of young people play music and listen to music, but that doesn't come out, then, in the numbers who study music GCSE. So, we need to do something about that. Bu, it is a wider issue—there are a number of small issues that exist around that.
I would imagine also, I think, that there's a direct link between the reduction in people taking GCSE music and the reduction in music services across local authorities. The lack of music services that used to exist for young people to engage in extra curricular—during school time or after school—those have definitely reduced. That is probably then having an impact on children then deciding to pursue music, because they're not having those initial experiences and initial opportunities.
And the obligation under many of those—where you have to pay to have lessons. So, actually, if you are fortunate enough to have music service provision in your school, the likelihood is that you're then paying for that service, therefore it's not accessible to all. How do we develop and change that, and how do we give young people experiences at a very, very early age of music and of enjoying music, and just being a part of singing in a group or doing a class taiko drum session, or something that really engages young people in music, and supports them to see that music is also something that's wider than just playing on stage?
So, very quickly, going back to a very interesting point that you made about the perception that music GCSE is about classical music, which has a very small appeal to young people. There are some who like it very much, but people tend to get into classical music, I'd argue, as they get older, I've found. Perception is one thing, but the other issue is: do you think that the current—? If you don't know the answer, perhaps you could give us an idea in writing. Do you think that the current GCSE syllabus is too classical music-heavy, or is it that it, simply, that it's perceived by young people to be based almost entirely on classical music? Is the perception the same as reality?
You have to be able to read music, you see, and some people I know who just play guitar ad lib—they get to GCSE and they can't deal with it because they don't read music, so—
And you can't do a practical exam then because you have to be able to sight-read.
Yes, so, there's a bit of perception and reality. Sorry, I'm answering a question. [Laughter.]
Diolch. [Inaudible.] [Laughter.]
Thank you, both. [Laughter.]
Have you had some involvement in Donaldson, then, to say some of these things that Carwyn Jones has asked you and to try and take down those barriers as to why they're not studying music?
Our 'creative learning through the arts' team will have had the involvement in Donaldson.
So, can we get some of that information from you, in terms of what you're actually saying, because that would be useful to us? Last week, we heard that it would be a totally different cohort of people who would study GCSE music as would play in a band, which I disagree with, and I'm sure Delyth does as well. But that's a debate for another day.
My last, last question is, and I don't mean this to be offensive in any way—obviously, at the beginning, you said that there's a large proportion of money that goes to classical music. How does that reflect, in your staffing team, the nature of the expertise that you have and the advice that you can give? Of course, if you're predominantly giving money out to classical, is that where the specialism lies within your team? Therefore, when you said that others are experts, like the BBC, would you therefore be pinpointing people to go to other places, as opposed to coming to you?
I think you have got a position where there are currently five portfolio managers. The one with the music industry experience and expertise is currently off on maternity leave.
Lisa, who's got us—
Lisa, who wrote the submission, is on maternity leave.
She was part of the Welsh Music Foundation. She's got that experience and expertise.
So, one person.
But there are only five of us at our level. So, then, there's that sense of—. We've all got different levels of expertise; we were recruited for our expertise in different areas.
Because time is tight, if you could give us some sort of paper on the structures and, if possible, on who does what, that would help us understand better how you give that advice and how you divvy out the work, if that's okay.
Diolch yn fawr iawn ichi am roi tystiolaeth ger ein bron. Os oes mwy o gwestiynau gyda ni, fe wnawn ni e-bostio chi neu gysylltu gyda chi, ond diolch yn fawr iawn am eich tystiolaeth yma heddiw.
Thank you very much for giving us evidence. If we have more questions for you, we will e-mail them or contact you, but thank you very much for your evidence this morning.
Diolch yn fawr iawn.
Thank you very much.
Diolch yn fawr.
Byddwn ni'n cymryd pum munud o seibiant nawr, Aelodau'r Cynulliad. Diolch.
We will now take a five-minute break, members of the committee. Thank you.
Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 10:23 a 10:32.
The meeting adjourned between 10:23 and 10:32.
Diolch a chroeso i'r pwyllgor. Eitem 3 ar yr agenda yw'r ymchwiliad i gerddoriaeth fyw yng Nghymru a dŷn ni'n croesawu'r Music Venue Trust yma bore yma, a'r tyst, Mark Davyd, sef prif weithredwr Music Venue Trust. Croeso i chi atom heddiw. Popeth yn iawn gyda'r cyfieithu?
Thank you and welcome to the committee. Item 3 on our agenda is the inquiry into live music in Wales. We are welcoming the Music Venue Trust here this morning, and our witness, Mark Davyd, the chief executive of Music Venue Trust. I'd like to welcome you here. Is everything okay with the translation?
Grêt. Dŷn ni fel arfer yn gofyn cwestiynau ar sail themâu gwahanol. Felly, os mae'n iawn gyda chi, awn ni'n syth i mewn i gwestiynau gan Aelodau Cynulliad gwahanol. Byddaf i'n gofyn y cwestiwn cyntaf: jest os dŷch chi'n gallu rhoi rhyw drosolwg i ni o'r sin yma yng Nghymru. Ydy e wedi gwella? Ydy e wedi gwaethygu? Beth yw'r sefyllfa yn eich barn chi ar hyn o bryd?
Great. As is our custom, we have questions on various themes, so if it's all right with you, we'll dive straight into questions from various members of the committee. But I'll begin with the first question, which is: can you give us some sort of overview of the scene in Wales? Has it improved? Has it deteriorated? What's your opinion of the current situation?
There's been a serious decline in the number of trading spaces in the grass-roots music venues sector. Some of those are very well known about—things like Buffalo bar, Gwdihŵ et cetera. There's also a slight decline in the number of times per week on average that those places are open, which is a slightly less well understood amount of opportunities there are for performers, artists and audiences to get together. That's a long-term picture over, really, 10 years that we know about, but appeared to be going on for probably three or four years before that. So, the problems really started around 2003 and 2004, where there were some fairly major changes to the working practices of the music industry, the economic pressure on artists of, actually, the costs of touring, and those have all come together into a bit of a sort of sandstorm of negativity, frankly.
A dŷch chi'n ateb—jest i gadarnhau—o ran persbectif Cymru'n benodol pan dŷch chi'n ateb y cwestiwn yna.
And just to confirm, you're responding from a Wales-specific perspective in answering that question.
Yes. It's reflective of the picture right the way across the UK. Wales has not been excluded from that. It's probably easiest explained by talking specifically about the number of tours at this level that are now visiting Wales and the number of tours from Welsh bands that are able to tour around the country, because that's the economic reality for bands as they start to move up the ladder of the talent pipeline. So, when I first started in this industry 35 years ago—believe it or not—an average tour would be 28 to 35 dates. It's now between 10 and 14. And often that 10 and 14 dates will not find a home—certainly won't find a home outside Cardiff—and so we're really cutting off people's access to culture.
Ie. Wel, dyna beth oedd y cwestiwn nesaf o ran beth yw'ch barn chi ynglŷn â maint lleoliadau. Dŷn ni'n gwybod bod Caerdydd yn mynd i agor lleoliad newydd yn y bae, ond ydy e'n broblem bod yna ddiffyg capasiti i fandiau dim o reidrwydd o Gymru i allu dod yma i berfformio a bod pobl wedyn yn gallu cael mynediad at y gerddoriaeth honno?
Yes. Well, that was what the next question was going to be in terms of your view about the size of venues. We know that Cardiff is going to open a new venue in the bay, but is it a problem that there's a lack of capacity for bands not necessarily from Wales to be able to come here and perform and then that people can have access to that music?
I think the problem is both for Welsh artists, who are finding it increasingly difficult to get the first steps on that rung—. I read the Arts Council of Wales submission this morning just before I came in, and it was interesting to see them talk about the possibilities of pop-ups and that perhaps being a replacement, but, to be honest, that misunderstands the talent pipeline that we need in order to progress people's careers. Grass-roots music venues play a particular role in that, in connecting the emerging artists, the ones that are first starting out, perhaps playing a pop-up, with the music industry in general, whether that's the Welsh music industry or the broader national music industry, and certainly international. If you have missing parts of the rung of that ladder, it's much more difficult for artists to progress their careers. Our particular area of expertise is in the grass-roots music venues, which is typically between 80 and 550 capacity, and, in that specific sector, that is where the misfiring part of this talent pipeline has been particularly impacted. Once you go above 600, maybe 800, capacity, putting on a live music gig starts to make more sense and it starts to become a more economically-profitable activity, and we can see that with promoters and venues across the country where there are groups of venues such as The Academy Group, DHP, et cetera. At the higher level, it does actually make sense. The question is: what's happened to this lower level, and, without that run of progression, how do people leap from a pop-up gig to a festival? And that's a really great question.
Okay. I'm sure we'll pursue that more. John Griffiths.
Yes. In terms of support and advice, how would you characterise the position in Wales at the moment in terms of its adequacy or not?
This is one of our specific—. I must avoid ranting.
It's fine to rant, as long as it's not too long.
Okay. I'll try and fit it in quickly. We held a national meeting for Welsh venues in Clwb in May 2016, which was attended by representatives of Welsh Government and Arts Council of Wales, and the conclusion of that meeting was that more support and guidance specific to Welsh venues was needed. We operate an organisation called Music Venues Alliance, which is the national network, of which there are a large number of Welsh venues, but, at that meeting, we realised Wales has some specific problems and Welsh venues have those, and they need specific advice. That was agreed, effectively, that it should happen, in November 2016, and, in February 2019, we finally received an offer from Welsh Government to apply to fund that post, and in June we finally received confirmation they wanted to fund that post, and in August we received the draft letter saying that they were going to fund that post, and eight days ago a representative of Welsh Government announced that they would not be funding that post at the present time because it was being parked for the creation of 'A Creative Wales'. That is reflective also of the problems that we've had with Arts Council of Wales, where, I think—. This is the rant: everything we're telling you about the failure to recognise this important role that these venues play and how they are so important to this talent pipeline is absolutely illustrated in the submission they've made to you this morning. It has not understood what they're doing, so therefore they're not being active. There's no sense of urgency. In the three years we've been discussing the support that these venues need, nobody's done anything. We are literally battering on the door of Welsh Government and Arts Council of Wales, saying, 'Please can you do something? Please can you support us to do something?'
In the meantime, we did a quick estimate of the amount of money that Music Venue Trust has invested into Wales, supporting Welsh venues to prevent them from closing down, supporting them with our emergency response service, giving them guidance on planning, licensing and legal. It comes to over £150,000—that we can assess—from our own sources. Literally, at the moment, £500 has been invested in this problem by, collectively, Welsh Government and Arts Council of Wales, and that was spent on catering at that meeting in May 2016. So, my answer is—. My answer is: no, there is not enough support, and there is a clear mechanism to provide that support, and I literally cannot tell you the reasons why that has not happened.
That's very interesting. What would you highlight to us? You were saying there were specific issues for the music venues, then, in Wales. What are they, in headline terms?
I guess my headline—. My headline statement for you would be—. Well, how controversial would you like me to be, John?
As controversial as you like.
You see, this is one of the roles that Music Venue Trust can play. I'd like to congratulate committee for calling some venues to come and talk to you, but we are totally neutral, so we can tell you absolutely the truth. The truth is that you have the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, which provides a legal duty to give access to culture—a vibrant culture—for future generations. And, frankly, you are failing in that legal duty. A young person in Newtown is nowhere near a live music opportunity. They have nothing to inspire them to write their own songs; they have no ability to go and see new and emerging bands. You don't have a transport system that would get them to the nearest available thing and get back again before they have to be back at home for whatever. So, I think that's your headline: how are we going to meet the fantastic work that you're doing around the future generations Wales Act, which is so progressive and so important? Failure to access culture impacts on every pillar of that. Every pillar of that is about health and well-being.
There's a study out at the moment that says that people who go to live music gigs regularly live longer. I mean, it was commissioned by Ticketmaster, so I'm guessing—[Laughter.] It may be involved in their things, but we all know that taking part in culture is incredibly good for people's health and well-being. It reduces mental illness, it helps with all these things, and so—.
And, geographically, there are major gaps in Wales.
Yes. There are major gaps in Wales, and this in, to explain, what we would call primary music touring towns. Again, when I started in this industry, in Wales, that would have included Aberystwyth, certainly, Pontypridd, probably, definitely Swansea, Newport—no doubt about it. You had universities with regular live music. One of my friends went to university at the Lampeter University of St David's. Is that right? Yes. And, when I went to visit him, on offer that weekend was Orange Juice and Dr Feelgood. They don't have any offer like that going on now.
We've got lots of great ideas about culture here in Wales and, again, congratulations, it's very forward thinking, but we're not delivering when it comes to the vibrant culture that young people currently identify with. And you can look at all the studies you like, and that will tell you the access point to culture for most young people is music. So, we should be giving them opportunities to do that and, personally, I find it—. I'm—as you'll get straight away—very passionate about this low-level access, about generating new artists, and I think it's frankly disgraceful that we're letting these venues close. We're letting artists that we should be enjoying their music for the next 20 years just fail to go anywhere at all. And we're not inspiring young people to become those artists who we're going to love and will be your national identity for Wales.
Right. Okay. Well, thanks for that. It's very informative, I think, and powerful for the committee. Welsh Music Foundation—Welsh Government stopped funding that organisation some five years or so ago. Has that left a real gap, do you think, or not?
I think it probably has. There were definitely some benefits from having such an organisation. However, I would say that one of our roles within the music industry itself is that I go and behave like this in front of the music industry. They don't have it right either. This is not solely a problem for Government and this is not solely a problem for the music industry. It's a problem for the culture sector, everything. Everybody needs to really swing behind this idea of the importance of these venues, and I think the criticism that I've heard of the Welsh Music Foundation is that it did not have a specialism in venues, and we can evidence that by the failure to protect venues while it was in existence.
I think I'm trying to sell our own organisation to you here a little bit, obviously, but I'm saying this is a very specialist sector. In every area that you probably could think about where an intervention is required, it's going to need to be specialised. So, if we talk about business rates, for example—
We'll talk about that later.
Yes. But everything is very specialised; it's about really understanding how they function. So, I suspect it was useful for the broader music industry and for the development of talent. I couldn't tell you that it had a huge impact upon venues.
No, okay. In terms of Arts Council of Wales, I think we've got a flavour of what you think of how well they're doing in terms of supporting music venues in Wales at the moment. Is there anything you'd add to what you've already said in terms of Arts Council of Wales and the help they provide or otherwise in terms of the way they fund by art form, the way they split funding between music venues and musical artists, for example, the grant size that tends to feature from Arts Council of Wales funding, and the music industry development funding stream, which I think hasn't really benefited venues very much—is there anything specific to any of those matters that you'd like to highlight in addition to what you've already told us?
I think you pretty much covered everything that we would say there, and, unfortunately, it would be almost entirely negative. I would just like to say that that doesn't mean that we're heavily critical of Arts Council of Wales in an exceptional way; this is a problem, frankly, right the way around the world. We have a 60-year history, now, of rock and popular music, but the institutions that are the gatekeepers to public funding have not responded to the changing agenda and the changing circumstances of that industry in a flexible way. So, we have not created funding streams or support—technical support or advocacy support—within those cultural institutions, and Arts Council of Wales would be one of those. I don't necessarily think it's their fault. We are—. Our own organisation was only created five years ago, and we probably thought about creating it for five years before that, because even we didn't understand the scale of the problem.
I think my direct recommendation would be that there needs to be a funding stream that is specific to venues, which recognises that venues have specific problems in areas like investment in infrastructure. So, some of it would need to be capital. And, based on the work that we've done with Arts Council England, which have created such a fund, supporting a grass-roots live music fund, the one thing I would advise on the end of that is that Arts Council England have done a very good job on that, but the application process is still very, very technical for the venues to understand, and encompasses language that, frankly, they need a lot of support to do. We are now having our first successful venues going through, so that process does work, but the mindset of funding, both in terms of what should be available and the way that we assess how we award it—both need work.
Okay. Just another couple of questions if we've got time, Cadeirydd.
Just on that, they're very small amounts of money. The contingency amount, taking the English amount of money—£1.5 million, I think—the contingency amount for Wales, if we just took 5 per cent, would be £75,000. I mean, all right, £75,000 is £75,000, but in practical terms it's a drop in the ocean, isn't it?
Are you asking me whether the Arts Council England fund should be much larger? Yes, it should—you can put that on record, definitely. But what I would tell you is you would be—. One of the things that is attractive and is very politically neutral about these venues is how incredibly inventive and innovative they are, how they can use a relatively small investment to stabilise and sustain their venue. We have venues that have gone through now for £15,000, which is genuinely helping them to sustain their staff levels and to think about having people who can think about additional bookings. These venues don't need millions and millions and millions of pounds. When we first started doing this work, we came across at least five venues across the country, and one was actually the Point in Cardiff, where the legal bills were eventually what they couldn't afford. Actually, those are not unfundable or unsustainable. It really is that small amounts of money would make a difference. Would I prefer it to be more than £75,000? Yes.
Just one last question then, John.
Okay, yes. In terms of your ability as an organisation to advise music venues in Wales, given that we have devolution and there are different planning regimes in place, different business rate systems, et cetera, are you able to provide that advice effectively in that devolved context?
Yes, we are. In fact, we're very fortunate to have a planning adviser who is actually based in Cardiff, and, obviously, there are differences in the format. This is why we say we really need a Music Venues Alliance Wales with a Music Venues Alliance Wales co-ordinator, because what we would like to see is more integration with the differences. So, for example, I would like to see the Music Venues Alliance Wales co-ordinator in regular meetings with the Future Generations Commissioner of Wales, because that is the way that they can simply understand what is happening and what the opportunities are. The main thing you don't have—. I would say that our emergency response service, which we run for venues, is equally open and free to all venues in Wales and has the skills to give them the advice they need, but what we don't have is the connection to the venues in Wales to get in early enough to understand, 'This venue is going to need this support.'
Right, yes, I see.
It's a communications issue as much as anything else.
An alliance would be of who, sorry? I didn't understand.
The Music Venues Alliance Wales members are the venues themselves—
So, that already exists.
That already exists, but it doesn't have a localised representative.
Doesn't have a what, sorry?
A national representative for Wales.
Within our organisation.
Within your—. And that's what you want to—
Yes, that's what we've been discussing with Welsh Government and the Arts Council of Wales for the last three years.
So, that needs funding.
That's the post that you thought was going to be funded, but wasn't.
Twelve and a half thousand pounds.
Twelve and a half thousand pounds. Small fry, I think. Okay. Delyth Jewell.
Diolch, Gadeirydd. I want to ask you about the planning system. So, you've said that for many young people, live music venues are their access points to culture. What view do you have on what local authorities could be doing in terms of the current planning system to make sure that they aren't barriers to those access points then?
I would say that cuts across planning and licensing, actually. Planning-wise, there's obviously the agent of change, which has been brought in by Welsh Government. At the moment, I would say that probably needs some toughening up. It's been adopted within law in Scotland, and we're still working on exactly the interpretation of it within Wales, but also the interpretation of it more broadly. Within the parameters of the concept of agent of change, there's also the opportunity to introduce rigorous application of what's called deed of easement.
Called what, sorry?
Deed of easement. That's where future residents commit to a deed of easement where they understand the location of the neighbourhood they're moving into, the proximity of music venues and the likely inconvenience they may suffer as a result, not only just from music, but also, if you live in a vibrant area, then obviously there's going to be more late-time noise. So, a deed of easement is a good enforcement issue during development to enforce the concepts of agent of change. Within the national guideline on agent of change, there is, of course, the opportunity for more localised governance to more rigorously enforce agent of change within their planning decisions. We haven't currently seen that done in Wales, but there hasn't been a recent case where development was a big issue.
On the subject of young people's access, though, like the rest of the country, the application of the licensing guidelines and rules can often exclude under-18s from access to music venues in a way that it doesn't exclude them from access to theatres or opera houses or ballet. Again, that goes back to this question of an equitable approach to people's cultural decisions. So, this is one of the main things that we as an organisation drive at whenever we're given this kind of opportunity. We still have a kind of censorious attitude towards contemporary music, and we're still in that phase where you wouldn't like your daughter to marry a Rolling Stone, which seems quite outdated to me, because they're all millionaires. [Laughter.] I don't think I'd like one of my daughters to marry a Rolling Stone, they're too old, but that kind of attitude towards them. I would strongly encourage, and I did strongly encourage them, when my 14-year-old daughters were old enough, to start going to gigs. We made arrangements for them to go to gigs. But I think the concept that the sale of alcohol within a venue is some kind of enticement to enter a world of alcohol—. I don't know if anybody knows, but they sell alcohol in your building just here. We would be delighted if people came to see opera; we should be delighted when they make a cultural decision to go and see music. So, I think there should be a lot of work around encouraging local enforcement of the Licensing Act 2003 to recognise that this is a cultural space that happens to be selling alcohol, not an alcohol space that happens to be providing culture.
Thank you. And I know that that's a point—well, I don't know, but I suspect that's a point that my colleague Mick will raise in a moment. That's really interesting that you say that the agent of change principle has been given a legal footing that is different in Scotland. Are best practices in terms of how that's working in Scotland being shared widely enough, do you think?
Well, they're being shared very well through our network. It's a very large network we have now. It's 557 venues across the country. I should be able to tell you the number in Wales, but do you know, I didn't even look that up before I came in. I think it's in our evidence, anyway. We are sharing that information and, frankly, the process at the moment is still responsive to a planning application. So, a planning application from a developer is likely to come in that will not comply with agent of change, for instance. Then the venue will contact us, we will write a planning objection and advise them on how to make their own planning objection, indicating that, 'Wait a minute, this hasn't hit the agent of change parameters that are in place now.' So that is a process that is at venue level. I think more work could be done with developers so they stop submitting those applications and also so that they understand the value of that music space.
Sorry to interrupt you, but that was a point that the Arts Council of Wales made in their evidence to us just now, that maybe lessons could be learned from what's happening in London about the benefits of the night-time economy and that those benefits to an area are every bit as valuable as the daytime economy and that maybe more could be done with those who make the planning decisions to understand that and to appreciate that more. Is that something that you'd agree with?
Yes, totally agree. The headline statistic on that is that, for every £10 spent on a ticket in a grass-roots music venue, £17 is spent in the night-time economy on catering, beverages, transport, et cetera. And that £17 in the night-time economy is supporting people's jobs, people's businesses. We like to call grass-roots music venues destination locations, and I always talk about this in terms of kebabs. I've eaten a lot of kebabs. Can you tell? [Laughter.] And I've eaten those kebabs by going to a grass-roots music venue, emerging at 11 o'clock at night and thinking, 'I need to eat something.' I've never left my house at 11 o'clock at night and gone to a kebab shop. [Laughter.] So, the question should be, whether you like kebabs or not: how many kebab shops will close when you close a grass-roots music venue? And that is just an example of that ripple economy effect.
And I think you're right, certainly developers have not—. There's been a big movement across the country for development to include these restaurants, the chain restaurants, like Jamie's and things like that. [Interruption.] Yes. And what's happened there? And those were described as destination businesses, but again, I'm not—. I would definitely eat in one of those restaurants—in fact, I did last night in the bay here. It was great. You have a fantastic range of restaurants. But are people leaving to go there or are they casually dining because they're experiencing culture? How many of the people at these restaurants here are sustained by the—
Are going to the Wales Millennium Centre.
Exactly. And this is the kind of way that we need to think about these venues. What's their impact on the night-time economy? Who is keeping taxis running?
Do you want to do business rates now?
Yes, okay, because I think it is linked. Thank you.
You have touched on this. Again, the Arts Council of Wales said, or almost implied—. These weren't the words they used, but they implied that, in some ways, the business rates system that we have at the moment is almost rigged against live music venues. Again, not their words. This is me summarising, I should emphasise, but that was what I took from it anyway, in terms of the fact that with Clwb Ifor Bach, they have to put on club nights in order to sustain their live music nights. Now, is there anything that you think could be changed in terms of that situation to make live music nights more sustainable without having to subsidise it with other—?
I think the question of subsidy, or addressing the costs, is two ends of the same equation. The business rates is a significant imposition on live music venues, and it is correct that live music venues seem to have suffered inordinately by a poor mechanism for calculating their rateable values and by, again, a failure to understand their business and the importance of the business at a national level and within the local interpretation of the rates that would be applied.
So, for example, a music venue is extremely unlikely to be part of any kind of discretionary rate relief, regardless of its organisational status. When we started this work in 2014, 3 per cent of grass-roots music venues that we surveyed were of some sort of not-for-profit structure. In the five years that we've been doing this work, we've done a lot of work around correctly allocating company structures and organisational structures, and that has now grown to 31 per cent of our membership that have a not-for-profit structure. There has been no change at all in the rates they're paying, except what was experienced under the annual review in 2017, where across the country grass-roots music venues experienced a 38 per cent increase in their business rates. At that time, my favourite to quote is that Arsenal football stadium was reduced by 2 per cent. So, the question about that is: what to do?
Is that a UK figure?
Yes. We'd have to have a Welsh Music Venues Alliance co-ordinator to spend specific time on what would happen, what the thing is, but, generally speaking, Le Pub in Newport is now a not-for-profit. Clwb is adopting a not-for-profit—. I mustn't say that, actually, but I think it's progressing along that route and there are many others doing the same thing. So, why hasn't that been recognised in the business rate relief, let alone the assessment?
The short-term answer, in our opinion, would be some sort of temporary relief using existing powers that are available to local government that could be expressed by the national body. So, Welsh Government could say, 'In our opinion, this is a crisis'—which it is in grass-roots music venues—'we should look at either discretionary rate relief, hardship relief or even localism relief as a particular intervention.' And I think the Arts Council of Wales's point is well made that it isn't as simple as just subsidising; we need to look at all of their costs, and that would include their services, the cost of touring and how we can effectively reduce the cost of that.
Okay. Thank you.
Just returning very quickly to the kebabs, no doubt the Welsh Government's food hygiene standards display has substantially improved your well-being at 11 o'clock at night eating your kebab in Pontypridd. [Laughter.] You did give a few comments about the problem in terms of the issue of venues and alcohol and so on, and of course some of the areas in terms of licensing and regulations are not devolved, although they are within the local authority ambit. What would you like to see change within that ambit? There's very little we can do in terms of the specific regulations themselves; what do you think could change in terms of the way the regulations are administered or operated?
I think within your remit, there is the opportunity to strongly say that these are cultural spaces. The impact of that is to guide the local decision making. It provides the opportunity for an organisation like us to go to individual decision makers and stakeholders who are making the decisions about how to implement local licensing. An interesting statistic is that, actually, people who go to see live music drink less. That's actually a statistic that music venues hate, because their business is very much based on trying to sell them alcoholic drinks. But we have a major shift in the patterns of behaviour amongst the 18 to 25 group, where drinking is substantially reducing. So, music venues are having to start to be inventive about the kind of offer they have of the retail supply of alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic drinks. I think the guidance that you can give is that these are important cultural spaces within the cultural envelope. They should be treated like theatres and all the other cultural things that we have, and that would enable us to go and compare licences between music venue spaces and their nearest theatre, or their nearest arts centre, because if we can get that as an argument that's clearly being led nationally, we can use it to influence licensing locally. I don't know a single venue that wants to exclude under-18s. I think there is an age limit, don't get me wrong, because there becomes a duty of care issue and the responsibility you have. The problems are two-fold. One is the licensing and the way it's done. The other one is what do you sell an under-18.
And I suppose, also, is there an issue in terms of the identification as a sort of family-friendly venue? Because behaviour has changed as well, hasn't it, in terms of participation.
Yes, and partly that's the history of rock music and of popular music and all these other genres that have emerged now. It's not unusual to see a room in which the oldest person is 70 and the youngest person is 18. That's actually very common. But the language we use about music venues hasn't changed. Normally, when I go and speak to a committee, we will talk a lot about young people, but we've got an ageing population and most of them are still going to want to go to music gigs.
I just want to ask you one thing. I think we've dealt with most of those within the ambit; I think we've got the understanding of the points you're making there. This issue has arisen of racial profiling as well, in terms of things that add a cost. Now, this is something I hadn't been aware of, but it's clearly something that is happening that is incredibly sensitive in a variety of ways, and adds costs as well. What can you say about this as an issue that's emerging?
I can say more than any single venue can tell you.
Please—that's why I'm asking.
There is obviously a reluctance to talk about this openly, because the people that you are talking about are the ones that will make your future decisions. But it seems fairly plain to us that, for whatever reason, there is an element of racial profiling going around, specifically around demands about the levels of security. I'm not going to pretend that that's not linked to a perception about genres of music, and that would include the lyrical content of some of those genres of music. And so, obviously, if you have a genre of music that's talking openly about knife crime and gangs, and that forms part of the lyrics, it is understandable why people may feel that this is a more dangerous, or potentially dangerous, or risky activity. What we should really be looking at is the hard statistics, though, and the hard statistics do not support that as an actual outcome. It's very perceptive. There is a lot of work to be done here about education. In the words of Eminem, if I may—
This could be an Assembly first.
I'll edit heavily. But it's entertainment; it's a performance. People who are singing about knife crime are not necessarily committing knife crime. The Rolling Stones sang about rioting in the streets. They didn't go and riot in the streets; some of their audiences did, but not necessarily at their gigs. So, I think it's really important for people to be trained and skilled to understand that it is having a cost impact, and I think it is discouraging people from feeling that they can put on a broad and diverse range of very contemporary music. And I think some work needs to be done on that, yes.
On the sensitivity of it, the very term 'racial profiling' creates all sorts of connotations. But what you seem to be suggesting is that there has been an emergence of this perception around that that has very little evidential base to it, but it is having an impact on certain genres of music, and that is an area that needs to be examined. In terms of the actual impact, and the cost impact, are you aware of adverse outcomes? Can you give us an example of some outcomes?
I would love to give you very specific outcomes, but I need to talk quite generally, because of the stakeholders that are influenced. But, for example, I was meeting with some venues yesterday, and one was telling me that, on their average grime night, which they still try and promote because there is a demand and they think it's important, they are effectively being told to increase their security from four to six. Two extra security puts an impact on the economic feasibility of the event. Somebody mentioned the need to do club nights in order to pay for the live music—well, that's an additional cost and makes it economically less viable to do those kinds of events. So, those are the direct impacts.
Where is this being driven from? Is it being driven from local authorities? Is that where it has emerged through?
Licensing and policing, where I think there should be some kind of—. There needs to be—. In London, they've established the Safer Sounds Partnership, which is where people who want to present these kinds of shows are meeting with licensing authorities and with police to discuss what is the adequate level of security and to correctly assess what are the risks. And we can do that by studying the circuit over a period of time, indicating whether there are more—. If there are more problems, there should be more security—we accept that. But at the moment, I think it's very subjective. We don't have any evidence that it's actually more risky. We have a perception that it is, which is related to the lyrical content.
Okay. It's an area that, obviously, we need to explore further. Thank you.
We don't have much time, but we may have more questions to write to you on this particular aspect. And to finish, Carwyn Jones.
Just the one question from me: you mentioned the difficulties of encouraging talent and bringing talent forward. My expedience of Ireland is that, in Ireland, they have a network of festivals and actually the local pub is the local music venue. It's nothing to be able to turn up and actually start an impromptu gig, more or less. We don't have that tradition in Wales. So, creating spaces where people are able to practice and able to develop their talent is important.
In the food sector, Welsh Government pays for incubators to help new food producers to develop ideas and then go to market. Do you think there's any mileage in adopting something similar for music, either Government-subsidised—you mentioned it in paragraph P of your evidence, actually—venues that are there to incubate talent or, alternatively, Government subsidies or events within venues, and I suppose, on top of that as well, some kind of system for helping festivals? Is that something do you think, first of all, that Government can do? And secondly, is it a model—and you see it in other countries—that could be adopted here in Wales?
Yes. But an expanded answer is: I think you have geographical access to culture issues in Wales, which would indicate that certainly, even around the kind of pop-up event-style influence that the Arts Council of Wales described in their submission this morning, that would need some subsidy to make it economically viable. And I think Guto from Clwb described that to you. If the facilities aren't there, it means that you have to bring in a PA, you have to bring in lights, you have to bring in the infrastructure. So, there's a lot of work that could be done there to reach out to the community to make sure that artists are able to go there, but also that people are inspired within those communities to start thinking that they could write their own songs and that they might want to perform and this might be a route for them that they want to take.
How would you do that? I think the first thing to do is to correct, frankly, the crisis that has hit the specific venues that we are describing. After that, there are a number of ways that you could use those current incubators as influencers. You could do an adoption scheme, where each of the venues that are in that thing in Wales adopts another place in Wales that doesn't have that access, and that is a subsidised programme of giving access to local culture.
We're talking about events that may be attended by as few as 50 or 60 people. It's not economically viable to do that, but I think it's incredibly important that young people right the way across the country have access to culture that they are inspired by and that they feel engaged with. And so, I think that's—. My answer would be structured. First of all, I genuinely am pushing—you really do need to intervene in this sector now. You need to get in. There are a small number of measures that are very cost-effective to take that would solidify and stabilise and start to sustain the sector. And you have a sector that is incredibly innovative and has been, frankly, astonishingly inventive in staying open and just continuing to do this work, despite all the pressures.
All they need is a little bit of help and support, some advice and guidance, some investment in infrastructure, some dealing with the costs that we talked about with business rates. After you've done that, which is pretty urgent, definitely I would move on to how can we tackle this issue around what we call secondary and tertiary markets. You're probably overloaded, in a moment of honesty, with what we would describe as tertiary markets here—places where people only really go once every five or 10 years. We need to increase that level of opportunity, definitely, and I think event funding or touring funding can certainly help to do that. But I would use these taste-maker, scene-setting venues as a great instrument to do that.
If there was one thing—a short, now, answer—you think we could be suggesting to Welsh Government—because of course we aren't Welsh Government; we may have Members from the governing party, but we're not Welsh Government—what would you think that we should suggest to them?
Yes. The priority for you. If there was one thing that we would do, to suggest to them.
Given what's within the remit that you can directly do, I think a fund to mirror that that's available in England now around the Arts Council of Wales, or a Welsh Government fund, to immediately shore up the difficulties for Welsh venues—that's probably overdue, to be honest.
I know there's not just one thing, but I wanted to see your priority. Thank you very much for coming in to speak to us. Diolch yn fawr iawn for coming in. We will be in connection as we go ahead with the inquiry. Diolch yn fawr iawn.