I grew up in rural mid Wales, and there wasn’t a lot to do; the cinema on a Friday night (and that was half an hour’s drive away), and the pub when you’re almost old enough (we’d willingly walk half an hour along muddy tracks). And then, a couple of youth project lifelines – for some sport, for others music, for me, a vibrant local youth theatre. It’s not just mid Wales – many friends who’ve grown up in sparsely populated areas tell of important schemes that made being a teenager living in a perceived backwater less grindingly dull.
Times are tight now, the axe is falling everywhere. But recent Arts Council cuts come as a particular blow in communities that are already struggling to support their cultural institutions. And while the Arts Council in England opted to share the pain, taking 0.5 per cent off most companies, in Wales 71 organisations will continue to be fully funded, while 32 lose their funding entirely. This will be a devastating blow to many smaller organisations. Of course, it’s easy to nod and mutter “had to be done” – until it affects an area you know well.