It is devastating news that the Welsh Music Foundation's funding has been stopped. The WMF is an organisation that managed to use its small budget of £160,000 to generate £3 million after bringing the World Music Expo to the country, and support the endeavours of small, upcoming artists in need. My band Joanna Gruesome was lucky enough to be awarded a grant of almost £4,000 to pay for us to fly to New York and play CMJ by Arts Council Wales, facilitated by the WMF.
When we were asked to play we had absolutely no means of paying for it ourselves and were it not for the funding there's no way in hell we'd have managed to get over there. Being given this opportunity changed so much for us as a band; Welsh bands rarely get heard in the rest of the UK let alone in America. Playing in the US was not only a completely life-changing experience, it made a huge impact on our visibility as a band and as a result helped our labels (small indies Fortuna Pop! and Slumberland Records) financially. We also now have a US booking agent due to these shows and will tour America for two weeks this summer.
Getting this kind of opportunity is so rare and near impossible if you're an unknown artist in the UK. In the increasingly corporate landscape of the music industry, keeping small indie labels alive and encouraging young musicians to make art is vital. But to do this government funding is absolutely necessary. The music industry can seem like a bleak world when it excludes those who aren't fortunate enough to have the resources to make music and that's outrageous: music and all the arts should be universal and government cuts only discourage people by making it more and more elitist.
It seems absurd that these cuts have been made when government spending on the arts makes up less than 0.1 per cent of its total spending, and it's incredibly important to note that it is the often forgotten about parts of the UK that get hit the hardest by these cuts: 47 per cent of arts funding in England goes to London, and Wales is outright losing one of its most important arts organisations. These cuts are a depressing insight into the future of this country and reflect the total lack of care this government has for those who struggle, and for whom a small subsidy can create huge opportunities.