Welsh minister accuses arts bodies of 'undermining' review process

Welsh minister accuses arts bodies of 'undermining' review process

Welsh economy secretary Ken Skates has accused arts trade bodies of "seeking to undermine the process" of a government review into literature in the country with their complaints.

The review into Welsh publishing released last month found that there was "significant good practice and effective support for publishing and literature that should be continued and built upon for the future", but it also accused literature development company Literature Wales of "lacking the skills and experience" to spend public money and of being "inward looking". It concluded by recommending that some of its functions should be transferred to trade body the Welsh Books Council.

Last week, Literature Wales and Arts Council Wales released strongly-worded statements criticising the report for its "unaccountably hostile" analysis of Literature Wales and "unsubstantiated" criticisms.

At the time Literature Wales chair Walford Davies said: “It is a matter of grave (public) concern that the [review] panel has presented a portrait of Literature Wales – and that is in so many respects inaccurate and ill-informed. Its unaccountably hostile analysis of Literature Wales lacks an evidential base."

For its part, the Arts Council of Wales said it was “deeply disappointed by the quality of the report”, arguing that it was “partial in its analysis and inconsistent in its judgement” which “undermines the authority of the review panel’s conclusions”.

Skates, who commissioned the report, is now considering the recommendations made by the panel and whether he will accept them.

However, in the mean time he has criticised the "personal statements" made by the organisations and accused them of seeking to undermine his decision, according to the BBC.

"Some of you clearly perceive serious issues with the report," he wrote to the bodies. "You have raised these with me and have agreed with me that the review panel should consider your concerns and respond to them. I have therefore been surprised in recent days to see personal statements appear online which could be seen as seeking to undermine the process we have all committed to, without awaiting the panel's response. This is not helpful."

Skates added: "I hope and expect that we will move forward in a way that allows this work to be completed in good faith and in doing so maintain productive and positive working relationships, both now and in the future."

Skates has written to the Arts Council of Wales and Literature Wales to tell them he notes the "concern" they have with elements of the report, and has asked review chair Professor Medwin Hughes and his panel to consider the criticism of the report and to respond during the summer break.