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This report is taken from PN Review 182, Volume 34 Number 6, July - August 2008.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams


The diversion of National Lottery money to fund London's Olympic Games will affect arts provision in Wales as much as that in England. St Donat's Arts Centre, for example, will lose its revenue grant from the Arts Council of Wales. ACW itself boasted of the centre as a unique venue 'in the grounds of a mediaeval castle over-looking the sea'. The castle was bought and renovated by the American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst in the 1920s. As a diminutive trans-Atlantic outreach of San Simeon it served the same purpose of providing an elaborately antique setting for entertaining guests. Here Hearst and Marion Davies held court, safe from the prying eyes of rival newspapers. During Hearst's lordship, it was frequented by more or less local cultural icons, such as George Bernard Shaw (though none, so far as I am aware, actually from Wales) and Hollywood stars on European jaunts. Since 1960 it has accommodated Atlantic College, the world's first international sixth form college, where, in addition to their conventional studies, students learn life-saving skills at sea. In 1976, a converted fourteenth-century tithe barn on the site became the centrepiece of theatre and arts provision for the Vale of Glamorgan and soon began attracting visitors from a wider area. Rather more than thirty years ago I recall talking with an almost youthful Andrew Motion on a bus taking a party of us from Cardiff to St Donat's, where he was to give a reading. And on another occasion soon ...
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