The Manic Street Preachers bassist on why cutting the Welsh Music Foundation is devastating for local bands.
The Coalition has ravaged the arts in Wales. Cuts were staggered in a lot of places, but Wales has been hit worst of all. I live in Newport and in the last few years I’ve never seen such a fucking wholesale hammering and demolition of culture. The Chartist mural has been knocked down, the Art Gallery’s Temporary Exhibitions Programme has been axed, and now the Welsh Music Foundation, which supports the local music scene, is being forced to close. Culture, art and music – these are actually things Wales is really fucking good at and they are being destroyed.
So the Government thinks the Welsh Music Foundation was a waste of money? Look at all the money we had to plough in to bail out the banks. It’s a sick political joke that the only nationalised industry we have left now is the banking sector. All we had from them for 30 years was ‘we can’t have a nationalised steel industry, we can’t have nationalised car manufacturers, we can’t subsidise industry, they need to be cut, they need to be shut down’.
And all those people lost their jobs and livelihoods. So what happens when the banks fucking go under? They come crying to the government and we have to spend all our money saving them. A nationalised banking system and Tony Blair being a peace envoy? You couldn’t have even written that in the most absurd satire 10 years ago.
The Welsh Music Foundation created a pathway to help bands succeed in an extremely tough environment, to give them advice, to provide venues and festivals like Swn in Cardiff to support the scene. We didn’t have any of that when Manic Street Preachers started, and it made Wales seem really good in a really hands-on way. It’s so depressing and frustrating when you have an initiative like that, which works and gets results, and then the Government decides to get rid of it. It’s obviously going to be damaging for young Welsh bands. We all know how hard it is to make a living out of any kind of expression these days. Unless you sell your soul there’s very little money to do it.
When we started making music we had a record company that believed in us for five years before we sold any records. It’s not just a question of money. The good thing about the Welsh Music Foundation was they never threw money at anything, but were there for advice and support; having Huw Stevens doing Swn, it was a really attractive thing and it felt right. It’s been an amazing year for Welsh music: there’s our new album, Cate Le Bon‘s album was just beyond stunning, Gruff Rhys‘s new album is amazing. I could go on and on. So that’s why it needs to continue – the small amount it cost to run made a huge difference and I’m gutted we’ve lost it