Analysing and Developing Creative Industries in Small Nations
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of South Wales
Unit of AssessmentMusic, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts
Summary Impact TypeSocietal
Research Subject Area(s)
Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration
Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies
Summary of the impact
Until the Centre for Media and Culture in Small Nations was established
in 2006, there was no coherent, multidisciplinary programme of research
examining the creative industries through the distinct framework of small
nations, including Wales. By drawing together researchers from diverse
arts and media disciplines, the Centre has provided a thorough analysis of
the creative industries in Wales and informed public debate on their
artistic, social and economic contribution to the nation's civic life. Our
original research has delivered new insights for organisations, and their
users, including BBC Wales, National Theatre Wales, the Welsh Music
Foundation and community radio.
Since its establishment, the Centre has been researching the cultural and
economic role of the creative industries in Wales through the global
framework of small nations. Small nations face distinct challenges and
possibilities in their artistic production and creative industries. For
Wales — a recently devolved nation — the vitality of its creative
industries and their capacity to provide distinctive forms of information,
education, entertainment and national imagery is a matter of live public
interest and concern. Our extensive programme of research asks the
following research questions:
- What role do the creative industries in Wales play in representing the
nation and its diverse cultural identities?
- How do the structures and strategies of the creative industries in
Wales support practitioners and communities in contributing to
sustainable Welsh creative ecology?
- What contemporary and historical challenges face the creative
industries in Wales and what strategies and principles might enable them
to be met successfully?
The research employs established research methods including audience and
other stakeholder focus groups, surveys, textual analysis, historical
analysis, policy analysis and interviews with key industry personnel. It
demonstrates that whilst small nations face particular challenges (e.g.
limited resources, a restricted market and vulnerability to foreign and
dominant-language penetration), they also possess certain advantages over
their larger neighbours. Blandford's (2007) research on theatre and
performance in Wales and Scotland (see REF2), for example, shows how small
nations are often more willing to challenge established models and offer
instead alternative approaches to national theatre.
Both Centre directors (Barlow 2006-2008; Blandford 2009-) have steered
this research, drawing on the range of expertise within the Centre to
collaborate on specific elements of the work. For example, Barlow was a
joint recipient with Philip Mitchell in 2001 of an ESRC award to
investigate independent radio in Wales which, in turn, supported the
Centre's subsequent research on community radio in Wales and Traynor's
application of it in Laos. The latter also exemplifies the Centre's
mission to apply research from Wales to small nation contexts across the
world. The Centre's research also entails commissioned reports and applied
research interventions such as industry-academic research symposia which
have made a tangible contribution to the research's impact, examples of
which are the Live Music Exchange event detailed below and BBC Wales and The
Story of Wales which brought together commissioners and programme
makers to discuss the making of a major BBC history series (details at http://tinyurl.com/o4lygtp)
Elements of the research were commissioned by external organizations.
Blandford's work on film and television in Wales, together with McElroy's
on Welsh-language television, led the BBC Audience Council Wales to
commission the Screening the Nation: Wales and Landmark Television
report in 2010. The research was led by Blandford, with McElroy and Lacey
as Co-Investigators, and Williams providing Research Assistant support.
Carr's academic and professional expertise (he is a former professional
musician) led to his being approached by Welsh Music Foundation to
evaluate the sustainability of the live music industry in Wales.
References to the research
• Barlow, D. M., Mitchell, P. and O'Malley, T. (2005) The Media in
Wales: Voices of a Small Nation, Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
Evidence of quality: This book emerges from a research project funded
by an ESRC grant (ESRC Ref: R000223668) which ran from December 2001 to
July 2003.It was submitted to RAE 2008 in then UoA 66.
• Barlow, D. (2006) `Reassessing Radio: Role, Scope and Accountability' Contemporary
Wales 18 (1): 140-155.
Evidence of quality: This peer-reviewed article emerges from the
ESRC-funded research project noted immediately above. It was also
submitted to RAE 2008. .
• Barlow, D. and Johnson, S. (2008) `Finding a Voice. Community Radio:
Role, Sustainability and Practice' The Radio Journal: International
Studies in Broadcast and Audio Media 6 (2-3): 75-85, DOI:
Evidence of quality: This peer-reviewed article appears in the leading
• Blandford, S. (2007) Film, Drama and The Break-Up of Britain.
Bristol: Intellect. ISBN 978-1-84150-150-5
Evidence of quality: This monograph was submitted to RAE 2008 in UoA65.
• Carr, P (2011). `Investigating the Live Music Industry within Wales: A
Critical Analysis: A Report for the Welsh Music Foundation', Welsh Music
Foundation: Available at
Evidence of quality: This research was supported by a grant from the
Welsh Music Foundation which ran from April 2010 to October 2010. Hard
copies are available on request.
Details of the impact
The Centre's research has achieved cultural, economic and policy impact
by advising broadcasters, theatre companies, music professionals and
community radio stations on their creative strategy and cultural role. Our
contribution to public debate has improved the understanding of both
policymakers and the public of the challenges and contribution of creative
industries in Wales. Our research has made an impact by contributing to
the establishment of National Theatre Wales; the BBC's increased emphasis
on drama production in the nations and regions (including the opening of
Roath Lock Studios in Cardiff Bay); and the Welsh Government's mapping of
the live music industry in Wales. The international reach of our impact is
evidenced by Traynor's work on community radio production in Laos where
her methodology has now been adopted by Community Radio/UNDP as a tool for
Reach and significance of the impact
Blandford et al's Screening the Nation (2010) report provided the
BBC Trust with insights on how well the BBC is serving its audience and
delivering its public purpose (see 5.1 and 5.6). The report's findings
were used by ACW members in their discussion with other Audience Councils
at a joint meeting in Salford in October 2009, where ACW provided a lead
on issues of portrayal and identity. Janet Lewis-Jones (then BBC National
Trustee for Wales), commented that the `report offers a perspective which
will contribute to the work of the ACW and the Trust during the months and
years to come'. (http://tinyurl.com/nhzkjf8).
Its significance to the BBC was indicated by the presence at its launch of
the BBC Trust vice-chair, Chitra Bharucha (see http://tinyurl.com/q76htkf).
The report's longer-term impact has been to contribute to regions and
nations agenda-building within the BBC which is exemplified by the public
lecture given by Jana Bennett (then Director of BBC Vision) in July 2010 (http://tinyurl.com/plwndpd) and
which has now been made manifest through the opening of Roath Lock
Studios. The report's impact on Welsh Government policy on broadcasting is
evidenced by the Centre Director being invited to provide evidence to the
National Assembly's Task and Finish Group on the Future Outlook of the
Media in Wales in November 2011 (see 5.5).
Blandford's research, and his advocacy for national theatres in the
devolved UK nations, contributed to the formation of National Theatre
Wales (NTW) in 2008. It led to his appointment as one of NTW's inaugural
Trustees. The thinking represented by his research on progressive models
of national theatre has been central in helping NTW set its core mission.
Blandford's research has had a significant artistic impact by helping NTW
achieve a reputation as one of the most important new companies in Britain
and Europe, providing what the Chair of the Board of NTW calls `an
excellent example of academic work contributing to the formation of a
company whose impact on theatre in the UK and internationally has been
very profound' (see 5.2).
Carr's report, Live Music in Wales (2011), has been widely
reported in the Welsh press and its findings have been discussed at
several industry and policy events hosted by the Hay Festival, the Brecon
Jazz Festival and the Institute of Welsh Affairs (see 5.9 and 5.10).
Carr's call for a mapping exercise on the live music industry in Wales is
now being implemented as part of the Welsh Government's creative
industries strategy, while the other problems highlighted by the report
are currently being addressed by the Welsh Music Foundation as part of its
on-going work to assist in the development of the music industry in Wales
Carr's subsequent report for the Higher Education Academy on Higher
Education and the Live Music in Wales (2012) has informed policy
debates about the training needs of the live music industry in Wales. His
call for more flexible, distance-learning courses and strategic work
placements within the industry was discussed with representatives from
Creative and Cultural Skills, the Arts Council of Wales, the Welsh Music
Foundation and the Welsh Government at an AHRC Knowledge Transfer event
organised by the Live Music Exchange at Atrium in November 2012 (http://tinyurl.com/p38wqus).
Barlow, Johnson and Traynor's research on independent radio has provided
extensive benefits for community radio stations, their workers and
volunteers. The models of community participation established by the
members of the Centre, contributed to the development of Wales' first
community radio station, GTFM. Building on this experience, members of the
Centre have taken a lead in establishing, with support from the Welsh
Government, the Welsh Community Radio Stations Network (see 5.4 and 5.8),
through which to share expertise and best practice throughout Wales and
the UK. They have also helped develop community radio stations in other
small nations, such as Laos (see 5.5).
Sources to corroborate the impact
Confidential letters from beneficiaries (including brief quotations
relating to the thrust of the evidence that they provide):
- Letter from Head of Governance and Accountability, BBC Cymru Wales,
"It can be seen therefore that the impact of the report was not
insignificant in adding momentum to Audience Council Wales' work, to
the BBC Trust and the BBC Executive's thinking on issues relating to
portrayal and indeed to the BBC's strategy to move television
production Out of London."
- Letter from Chair of the Board of Trustees of National Theatre Wales,
"The thinking represented by this book and by others who have written
about models of national theatres that are not building based,
pluralistic in their approach to questions of national identity and
innovative in their approach to questions of community and engagement
has been central to the thinking behind National Theatre Wales' core
- Letter from Director of the Welsh Music Foundation, May 2013.
"The report called for improving the mapping of the live music sector
in Wales. I am pleased to report this is something which the Welsh
Government, through its Creative Industries strategy is currently
- Letter from Director Advisers in Media/ former Head of Broadcasting
and Telecommunications, Ofcom in Wales, November 2013.
"The University has acted as an important source of research and
support for the development of radio in Wales over many years...our
strategic partnership has directly informed the development of the
Welsh Community Radio Stations Network and enhanced our ability to
lever support from Welsh Government for this important initiative. It
was also very valuable in forming a strategic view of the developing
community radio sector in Wales, which has helped to influence policy
in this area. I am delighted to be able to commend this excellent
example of academic work contributing to the development of community
radio and to the many benefits such models of media participation can
bring for citizens and communities in our society"
- Letter/email from UNDP-funded Laos Community Radio Support Project.
March 2011 and May 2012
"The Lao PDR government and the UNDP [United Nations Development
Programme] is expanding its support for community radio and hopes to
establish community radio stations in all 47 of Laos' poorest
districts. This radio drama method is very important and will allow us
to use radio drama for development in all the new radio stations in
Reviews and reports in the public domain:
- National Assembly for Wales: Communities, Equality and Local
Government Committee Report (2012) by the Task and Finish Group on the
Future Outlook of the Media in Wales. Note direct reference to the
Centre on p.50. Available at: http://tinyurl.com/ooq3vwc
- BBC Audience Council Wales Annual Review 2009-10 - reference to report
on p.6. Available online at: http://tinyurl.com/o93lekt
- First Online Community Network Launched, Media Academy Wales.
Available at: https://www.mediaacademywales.org/first-online-community-radio-network-launched-for-wales
Indicative media coverage and public debate:
- "Live music must do or die", Jonathan Brooks Jones, Click On Wales,
July 17, 2011. Available online: http://tinyurl.com/ovybpm6
- "The Changing Music Industry", Hay Festival, May 27, 2011. Available