When I was involved in getting government support for the big music project I was asked to meet ministers and assembly members, key among them was Ken Skates the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism.
I was asked basically to defend why government should be using resources and give backing to big music projects and the youth music projects in South Wales. What struck me was the question. What jobs can you get for these young people from music projects? Can you guarantee jobs from these investments?
I believe this misses the real virtue of allowing people accesses to the means to create. The benefits of the music projects I have been involved with are not commercial.
Allowing an environment where music and other creative pursuits flourish is important for a rich culture. Allowing access to culture also breeds more culture.
As with the youth projects (Major music. Vibe creative) Government funding for equipment has led to young people discovering their calling and opportunities to pursue careers and life styles that would not be possible.
As for the commercial, an example of how supporting culture can lead to commercial ventures such as the youth project I took part in at Vibe Works. From this and the Government funding (that was recently cut) some of the students set up their own company called Vibe Creative. This has paid for its self many times over.
We have seen the Government misunderstanding of the importance of cultural teaching and investment with the attention being drawn away from primary school teaching of creative subjects. This has led to companies like Superstars going into these school and teaching these subjects independently and because of this they are simply not seen as important as other classes.
While there is a strong argument for the current hierarchy of English, Maths and Science being at the top while other subjects as seen as less important, I also feel that ranking subjects as more important than others can prove difficult to some children. To a musician, music is more important than chemistry in school.
The bottom line for me is the benefits from a strong culture vastly outweigh its initial investment cost and thinking “how many jobs will we get out of this” is the wrong way to think about creative pursuits. The commercial upside are a happy by-product of the cultural ones. Wales has a reputation for rich culture and I hope we can help build on and defend that perception.
Below is a very unflattering picture of me with the minister along with a link to the company the ex students at the music project made before the funding was cut.
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