1.Introduction

1.1     Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council welcomes the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee’s inquiry into film and major television production in Wales. 

1.2     The creative industries, inclusive of film and major television production, provides an increasing opportunity for Wales to take advantage of the value of such a “fast growing, highly productive, innovative and world –renowned” sector that has “social and intrinsic benefits that compound its importance.”[1]

 

2.Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council

2.1     The Council supports film and major television production and recognises its valuable economic and cultural impact. 

2.2     Examples of how the Council supports the sector are:

·         Advocating for and providing pathways and progression routes into the sector, such as partnering with ‘It’s My Shout’ on its ‘Made in Wales’ project, offering opportunities for residents to be a part of a series of short film productions, in front of and behind the camera.

·         Working with Wales Screen to identify locations for film and major television productions.  Previous examples include the Park & Dare Theatre, Treorchy (BBC’s Dr Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures); Welsh Mining Experience at Rhondda Heritage Park, Trehafod (BBC’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Sky 1’s Stella); many school buildings; and access to the urban and rural green spaces afforded by the borough.  Rhondda Cynon Taf’s geographic location close to Cardiff makes the area favourable to television and film companies based in Cardiff to utilise our locations for filming.

·         Supporting SME’s within the sector via our business funding schemes.

·         Providing a transport infrastructure that connects across the region and offers affordability of business premises within the M4 corridor.

 

3. Cardiff Capital Region

3.1     The Council believes that the Cardiff Capital Region, which according to Nesta’s UK-wide mapping is a “high growth cluster”, and one the UK’s only genuinely bilingual production centres and the main hub for creative industries in Wales, has real potential to benefit from the economic and cultural impact of film and major television productions.[2]

3.2     We agree that the Welsh Government’s policy aims for funding film and major television production in Wales should be clear, with transparency as to why and how decisions are made.  Across Wales, what percentage of funding has been afforded beyond our capital city?  For the economic impact to be beneficial across the City Region, surely funding should be spread beyond the city boundaries?

 

4. Strategic Opportunity Areas in Rhondda Cynon Taf

4.1     As a Council we have identified strategic opportunity areas[3].  One such area we refer to as the ‘Heart of the Region’ and identified as a strategic hub by the Valleys Taskforce is that of wider Pontypridd and Treforest.  Film and major television production within this area could build on its economic strengths and location, recognising the pivotal role it plays within the Cardiff Capital Region.  Production companies have previously held bases at Treforest Industrial Estate, which offers major regional potential for investment and growth.  Furthermore, the University of South Wales and Coleg y Cymoedd add the research and development, skills and training dimension within this strategic opportunity area.  

4.2     Another area is the A4119 Corridor - the ‘Regional Rhondda Gateway’ - offering significant opportunity for film and major television production bases at the 15+ hectare Coed Ely Site, alongside its key location regionally in terms of air travel. 

4.3     In addition to these, the Llanilid/M4 Corridor is the only inward investment site of its scale in the Cardiff Capital Region, and is a critical opportunity for major transformational growth in the economy of the region.  This site is already home to 40,000sq.ft of studios offering real opportunity for the sector and to unlock the potential of this area.

 

5. ‘Prosperity for All: economic action plan’

5.1     We are not clear on the support given by Welsh Government to develop the film and major television industries in Wales, including economic impact, cultural impact, and value for money. 

5.2     With no reference to this sector, nor the creative industries as a whole, within the Welsh Government’s ‘Prosperity for All: economic action plan’, what is the commitment to the sector going forward?  A recent report published by NESTA highlights that south Wales’ creative employment mass is situated around the following sub-sectors of the Creative Industries: film, television, video, radio and photography; music, performing and visual arts; architecture.[4]  How is the Welsh Government proposing to support this growing and valuable sector moving forward?  We believe that the Cardiff Capital Region offers distinctive opportunities for this sector and a real opportunity for regional collaboration.

5.3     In line with the twin goals outlined in Welsh Government’s ‘Prosperity for All: economic action plan’, this sector can grow the economy, and we believe that it is a “supercharged” industry of the future[5]; and also an opportunity to address issues of equality and social justice in Wales (as elsewhere), reducing inequality, connecting right back to the economy of Wales.  Professor Jonothan Neelands of the University of Warwick observed that there is now a growing acceptance that these aims can form part of a single, holistic agenda:

“I’m old enough to remember when issues around diversity and participation in

the arts and society were seen as social justice objectives. But they are economic

objectives now as well; we know that diversity is the social engine of creativity.

We recognise that creativity, the creative industries are absolutely essential to

our social and economic futures. So I think for the first time there is a congruence

across economic, social, cultural, artistic, digital, creative agendas that we’ve never

seen before.” [6]

 

6. Partnerships

6.1     We welcome the investigation into how Ffilm Cymru Wales, the BFI and others support the sector, and how this work complements the Welsh Government in this area.

6.2     We believe there is a partnership role for local authorities, and within the Cardiff Capital Region the ArtsConnect collaboration[7] (led by Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC) could facilitate this.  Much of our work supports the development of skills and addresses skills shortages in the industry (and the wider creative industries sector), through contributing to the development of pathways and progression routes. 

6.3     Within the Council, our Families First funded Youth Arts and SONIG Youth Music Industry programmes connect young people, many experiencing poverty of aspiration, to opportunities and career choices within film, television, and the wider creative industries sector.  For example, the SONIG Youth Music Industry programme (now in its 17th year), has developed the Young Promoters Network and Forte (funded by Arts Council of Wales and the PRS Foundation), creating pathways and progression routes for many young people into the music industry in all its aspects.

6.4     Furthermore, the promotion of filming locations has real value to tourism, with examples throughout the UK and Ireland of trails created to attract visitors[8].  The Cardiff Capital Region’s tourism offer could capitalise on such initiatives beyond the city to distribute the economic and cultural impact of the sector.

 

7. Skills Development

7.1     We believe that it is paramount that the inquiry considers the support given to develop skills and address skills shortages in the industry and whether there is sufficient data to map existing skills. 

7.2     The ‘Clwstwr Creadigol’ bid to the Arts & Humanities Research Council’s led by Cardiff University on behalf of the three higher education institutions in Cardiff is an opportunity for the Welsh Government to ensure that they support the contribution these universities can make to the economy through their “research and development, innovation and science”[9], particularly focused on the creative industries sector. 

 

8. Conclusion

8.1     The Council’s Corporate Plan 2016-2020 “The Way Ahead” has building a strong economy as a priority.  We recognise the potential of film and major television production to support this, and encourage Welsh Government to consider the offer for the sector within our borough.

 



[1] ‘A blueprint for growth: Creative Industries Federation response to the government’s consultation: ‘Building our Industrial Strategy’.  Creative Industries Federation, April 2017.

[2]Clwstwr Creadigol: Research & Development for an Innovative Creative Ecology.’  Cardiff University, December 2017.

[3] ‘Strategic Opportunity Areas’. Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, September 2017.

[4] ‘Creative Nation: How the creative industries are powering the UK’s nations and regions’.  Nesta, February 2018.

[5] ‘Prosperity for All: economic action plan’.  Welsh Government, December 2017.

[6] ‘Experimental Culture’. Nesta/Arts Council England, March 2018.

[7] ArtsConnect is a collaboration, under a Memorandum of Understanding, between the Arts Services’ of Rhondda Cynon Taf, Caerphilly and Vale of Glamorgan CBC’s; Awen Cultural Trust; Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust; and Arts Active (Cardiff).

[8] Examples: Oxfordshire Inspector Morse tour trail - https://www.experienceoxfordshire.org/product/morse-tour-oxford/; Game of Thrones trails across Ireland - http://www.gameofthrones-winterfelltours.com/; and Visit Dartmoor’s War Horse locations - https://www.visitdartmoor.co.uk/explore-dartmoor/arts-and-literature/war-horse

[9] ‘Prosperity for All: economic action plan’.  Welsh Government, December 2017.