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What’s in store for the arts industry this year in Wales?

Empty Cinema Screen
Source : Flickr by Kathrin & Stefan Marks
The tumultuous year has caused widespread issues throughout the country, one of the hardest hit is the arts industry, one that was arguably overlooked beforehand. Whilst government support for the industry could usually be said to be lacking due to Covid-19 there has been a £53 million bail out for arts bodies in Wales. So,  what does this mean for the future of the industry and how are its workers coping at the moment? 

By Izzy Morgan | Comment Editor

The tumultuous year has caused widespread issues throughout the country, one of the hardest hit is the arts industry, one that was arguably overlooked beforehand. Whilst government support for the industry could usually be said to be lacking due to Covid-19 there has been a £53 million bail out for arts bodies in Wales. The arts industry and its workers’ will no doubt be affected by these policies. So, what’s in store for the arts industry this year in Wales?  

With major film companies now withholding the release of some of this years’ biggest releases, many cinemas are grabbing at tenuous straws to try and retain pre-lockdown attendance numbers. Christopher Nolan’s Tenet was on many accounts a guinea pig for studios to measure how many people would actually brave going to the cinema again. However, with numbers drooping in its second and third week at the box office there is a lot of concern that even November releases ( usually a busy time of year for cinemas ) will be postponed until 2021. This is a huge issue for theatres as the furlough scheme draws to a close, paying rents, bills and their staff most importantly will become near impossible. We’ve seen this in action with the recent closure of all of Cineworld venues in the UK. 

Due to the nature of streaming as we now know it, many companies have opted for a ‘home release’ with movies such as Mulan being released on Disney+ for a fee of £19.99. Whilst it had many online downloads it will not be likely to make back its $200 million budget and therefore might not be the singing success Disney hoped for. 

Independent cinemas are in an even more precarious position as a result of not having the financial stability of major theatre companies. With many of them still being closed with plans to reopen being vague and subject to change, it does call into question their future. The cultural impact of losing these venues might be bigger than we think. They often facilitate young and independent filmmakers who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to showcase their work. As well as this they often show old films and ensure the next generation of media consumers don’t forget the amazing work of those who have come before. Usually they offer a more discursive and open place for those who are passionate about this industry to interact and form friendships which is something that could be said to be lacking from your regular cinema experience. 

Another facet of the industry which has been unrecognisably impacted is the live events industry with festivals, summer plays, musicals and virtually all live events being cancelled. We are already seeing the closure of independent music venues in Cardiff which plays a key role in upholding the industry at its grassroots. Currently there doesn’t seem to be any plans for socially distant performances in Cardiff meaning that whilst some are taking place around England, Welsh artists are still suffering the consequences of a summer without work. 

I spoke to Frankie-Rose Taylor who is a performance artist in Cardiff. When asked about how the pandemic has affected the live performance industry she described the impact as “devastating”. I inquired into her thoughts on the government bailout and she described it as “not getting to people quick enough, meaning many jobs are still being lost, and venues and companies struggling to survive”.

“It’s a shame a global pandemic is what it took to show people the mass inequalities in the creative industries”. 

Cardiff is the epicentre for cultural life in Wales and therefore we need to support the industry and its artists’ here before it’s too late. The knock-on effects on the industry in years to come will no-doubt play a significant role in students having more difficulty in finding jobs in an already tough job market. 

All in all, the entertainment industry has taken a major hit this year but it will be up to the viewing public to help decide its fate through being active in these communities whether that’s by going to see a film at your local cinema or paying to view a play online that directly supports those who work in the industry.So, what’s in store for the arts industry this year in Wales? Well, if the entertainment industry doesn’t get some its customers back, we may witness the major scaling back of the industry in Wales which would be a truly terrible loss for our country.

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