BLOG Kathryn Gray



Over at Wales Home, Patrick McGuinness has an article rightly bemoaning the lack of mainstream arts coverage in Wales. It's an interesting piece and raises important - and familiar - points regarding the lack of mainstream arts coverage in broadcast and, of course, the lack of a daily broadsheet in Wales. Years ago, I heard rumours that there was a plot afoot to set up an exciting broadsheet in Wales. It never did happen. With the current climate, it's unlikely to in the foreseeable future.

But, of course, all's not exactly rosy over the border.

In recent years, the book review pages of the broadsheets have become that much more slender (and less rigorous). Less commercial titles - particularly volumes of single-authored poetry - have been jettisoned. When the BBC recently commissioned a poetry season (screened through spring to autumn last year) it was something of an event - one of the rare instances over the last decade when original arts programming was commissioned on such a scale, and for national broadcast, too. With the exception of the Culture Show and the Review show, those hungry for arts coverage on the Way We Were will have to largely content themselves with repeats from the golden era of the seventies, which, if they're lucky, they'll accidentally catch on BBC4. If you want more on the Way We Live Now, you'll be going to bed on an empty stomach, by and large. So, I don't think the limitations on a comprehensive, vibrant arts scene in broadcast or print media is a problem for Wales alone, although it's certainly true that Wales could be said to be in extremis.

I think Patrick raises particularly important points (in the piece and the ensuing comments) with regard to education and how this impacts upon the cultural consciousness and those who will come to be the future's opinion formers. Not so much making a case for drilling children in valley writing or the legacy of women's writing from Wales by rote. Who'd want that? No. More a case of making them aware of it in the first place. How many are? I wasn't. It takes a lot of effort and bloody-mindedness to find your way alone. Is that how tradition and culture should come to you? I wonder.

Anyhow, you can find the piece and the comments here


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