Menu

WELSH CULTURAL LEADERS BACK REMAIN

More than 100 representatives of the cultural community in Wales – including authors, poets, actors, musicians, curators and film-makers, as well as the leaders of more than 20 arts organisations - have issued a public declaration today backing the Remain in Europe campaign.

The list of supporters includes actor Michael Sheen and Hinterland star, Richard Harrington acclaimed writers, Philip Pullman and Owen Sheers, and the National Poet of Wales, Ifor ap Glyn and two other award-winning poets who have held the National Poet title, Gillian Clarke and Gwyneth Lewis – plus international opera director David Pountney and harpist Catrin Finch.

The declaration rejects any notion of “breaking with our family of nations with which we share so much” or of “quitting a framework for continental collaboration that has silenced almost all the guns in Europe and brought down barriers to trade.”

It says that every art form is constantly enriched today by active collaboration in Europe. The letter reads:
“Welsh performers have long grown used to travelling and performing right across the EU without let or hindrance. The film and television industry in Wales as well as its arts centres and organizations have all benefited from EU investment. It has enabled our literature to reach new markets, our poets to be read and studied in other countries, our opera to be enjoyed world-wide through a new digital platform.

“And our young people have been enriched educationally and culturally through the support of the EU’s Erasmus programme that has enabled them to travel and study across the continent and beyond.

“It is through our layered identities – Welsh and British and European – that we read our common humanity. Culture does not necessarily advocate any narrow political solution, but it should open our minds to seek common good where common good can be found, and common purpose where common purpose can strengthen our hand.”

It concludes:
“Better to fix than to break, to create than to destroy. Better to stand firm than run for cover. Better to remain than to leave. It is our Europe - its future is our responsibility.”

Geraint Talfan Davies, Chair of Wales Stronger In Europe said:
“This comprehensive support from the cultural community in Wales demonstrates that our connections with Europe are much deeper than can be measured on a balance sheet. It is resounding affirmation that Europe is not ‘them’, that Europe is us.”

Gillian Clarke, who was National Poet for Wales from 2008 until this year, said:
“I really do feel part of this family of nations. I was in Berlin when the wall came down. Joy and music filled the city. Today, students studying my poems email me from Paris, Rome and Madrid with questions. The thought of leaving this family is both painful and unnatural.”

Philip Pullman said:
“I feel (as well as think) that being part of European institutions is an expression of the truest values of the people we are and the place where we live.
“Of course the EU is imperfect: nothing much bigger than a haiku can avoid some sort of imperfection. So let’s work hard to improve it, in whatever part of this great continent we live, in whichever language we speak, with all the historical understanding we can muster, and with all the literary, artistic, scientific, musical, sporting, technological heritage we can bring to the task. It’s a great task, a great responsibility, a great privilege,” he added.

David Pountney said:
“There are more profound reasons for “Britain in Europe” than fickle financial fortune.

“The first is that sovereignty is a mythical substance that has always been much less substantial than it seemed. This “power’ which the Leave campaign claims would be repatriated is about as tangible as Falstaff’s ‘honour’: can you eat it? Can you touch it? What is it? An expression! Even the much-vaunted ‘5th largest economy’ will have little power to take genuinely independent decisions. That is a fact of modern life.”

“The second reason is that culture is an enduring link. It may not have any direct relevance or imperative towards this or that political solution, but it should point the way, as is always the functions of the arts. A broad and open and informed cultural outlook will tell us quite clearly which way to vote on 23rd June,” he added.

• The full text of the declaration is provided below

A declaration by the cultural community in Wales

Brexit is an ugly word. Break? Quit? Break with our family of nations with which we share so much? Quit a framework for continental collaboration that has silenced almost all the guns in Europe, and bought down barriers to trade? We reject any such notion.

We all share with our European neighbours blood and culture, history and art, music and literature, rugby and cuisine. Every small ethnic and cultural brook within the European context has its own identity, but all are in the end part of the same mighty river.

Our politics and philosophy go back to the Greeks, our language in enriched by Roman and Teutonic roots. Our music, too, is a common European language. We share centuries of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. Our monarchy has been at different times French and Dutch and German.

Working in the arts and creative industries in Wales we are especially conscious that our European connections are just as important to us in the cultural sense as in the economic.

Today every art form is constantly enriched by active collaboration in Europe. Welsh performers have long grown used to travelling and performing right across the EU without let or hindrance. The film and television industry in Wales as well as its arts centres and organizations have all benefited from EU investment. It has enabled our literature to reach new markets, our poets to be read and studied in other countries, our opera to be enjoyed world-wide through a new digital platform.

And our young people have been enriched educationally and culturally through the support of the EU’s Erasmus programme that has enabled them to travel and study across the continent and beyond.

It is through our layered identities – Welsh and British and European – that we read our common humanity. Culture does not necessarily advocate any narrow political solution, but it should open our minds to seek common good where common good can be found, and common purpose where common purpose can strengthen our hand.

Better to fix than to break, to create than to destroy. Better to remain than to leave. It is our Europe - its future is our responsibility.

Signatories
Rebecca Afonwy-Jones, David Anderson, Elinor Bennett, Hilary Boulding, Ceri Black, Myrddin ap Dafydd, Ifor ap Glyn, Elen ap Robert, Horatio Clare, Gillian Clarke, Alfredo Cramerotti, Sybil Crouch, Catrin Dafydd, Fflur Dafydd, Sian Melangell Dafydd, Dilwyn Davies, Geraint Talfan Davies, Carole-Anne Davies, David Drake, Laura Drane, Daniel Evans, Marc Evans, Rebecca Evans, Graeme Farrow, Catrin Finch, Peter Finch, Hannah Firth, Connie Fisher, Peter Florence, Chris Grace, Mali Harries, Gwynne Hughes- Jones, Gwyneth Glyn, Jon Gower, Matthew Gravelle, Kathryn Gray, Tristan Llyr Griffiths, Arwel Gruffydd, Bethan Gwanas, Tessa Hadley, Eluned Haf, Patrick Hannay, Richard Harringtom, Paul Henry, Mererid Hopwood, Philip Hughes, David Jackson, Angela V John, Tudur Dylan Jones, T. James Jones, Aneirin Karadog, Paul Kaynes, David Kempster, Lothar Koenigs, Christine Lewis, Gwyneth Lewis, Sophie Lewis, Robin Llywelyn, Betsan Llwyd, Chris Loyn, Donald Maxwell, Patrick McGuiness, Karen McKinnon, John Metcalf, Robert Minhinnick, Gillian Mitchell, Twm Morys, Yvonne Murphy, Tiffany Murray, Dennis O’Neill, John Osmond, Hefin Owen, Richard Parnaby, David Pountney, Angharad Price, Philip Pullman, Manon Rhys, Tim Rhys-Evans, Ceri Wyn Richards, Menna Richards, Carlo Rizzi, Camilla Roberts, Wiliam Owen Roberts, Eurig Salisbury, Michael Sheen, Owen Sheers, Lleuwen Steffan, Wiard Sterk, Prof Dai Smith, Ed Talfan, Kevin Tame, Kully Thiarai, Ed Thomas, Elin Manahan Thomas, Leo Thomson, Jeremy Turner, Yvette Vaughan-Jones, Amy Wadge, William Wilkins, Gwyn L Williams, Alison Woods, Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch.