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This report is taken from PN Review 127, Volume 25 Number 5, May - June 1999.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams

A recent report published jointly by the Arts Council for Wales, the Welsh Development Agency and S4C (the Welsh-language television channel), claims that 28,600 people are employed in the various branches of the arts here, 16,000 of them full-time. The annual turnover from arts activities is said to be £1.1 billion. Served up plain, this takes some swallowing. Using the conventional formula, it should mean something like 486,000 work in the arts in England, producing a turnover approaching £18 billion. How close to the mark is that, I wonder? It helps to define what is meant by 'the arts' in this context. The report says the media in Wales contribute the largest part of the impressive total with a gross turnover of over £346 million; the visual arts and design come in at £213 million, and the performing arts at about £101 million. The contribution of literature, or at least of writers and writing as distinct from publishing and related business, and from journalism, if it registers in cash terms at all, will surely be expressed as a negative number. Only a handful of writers in Wales live by the pen, and far from lavishly. The rest subsidise their art out of their workaday wages. The Arts Council, ever stingy in its handouts to literature, nevertheless underwrites book production on a large scale. In a recent Western Mail article, Meic Stephens (who knows more of both arts and bureaucracy and making a living from writing than anyone else I ...


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