David Pountney on the value of culture and WNO’s partnership with the BBC


“Culture is not the answer to everything, but life without culture is worth nothing”

The recently published report from the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value, Labour’s election pledge to give every child access to a creative education and the recommendations of the Donaldson Report in Wales to include expressive arts as one of six key areas in a revised National Curriculum demonstrate how questions about the long-term sustainability of culture and creative industries in Britain are firmly on the agenda at the moment.  Increasingly stakeholders are being encouraged to come together to ensure creativity, cultural and the arts remain accessible to all and a viable career for those pursuing that pathway.

Ahead of the #killculture Twitter debate, we talked to Welsh National Opera CEO and Artistic Director, David Pountney, about the organisation’s partnership with the BBC and the Get Creative campaign.

We asked about the WNO’s mission and the challenges it faces:

WNO’s mission is to bring the live experience of opera to audiences across the huge swathe of the British Isles that we serve – essentially everything west of a line from Liverpool to Southampton!  But the live experience, unique though it is, is only one way to experience the essential benefits of culture to our well-being.

In enabling the WNO (and other cultural organisations) to reach and benefit a wider audience David was keen to stress the importance of partnerships between institutions and highlighted the pivotal role of broadcasters, particularly the BBC through initiatives like Get Creative in getting this message out:

Our partnership with the BBC – an organisation that touches 96% of the National population, is an essential way of communicating our message and what we have to offer, as well as offering the BBC our content through broadcasts and many other formats.

David also recognised a deeper role for both organisations in communicating arts and culture to society and in projecting that national culture to the world:

Both organisations have a “National” role, as their name implies, and this underlines that alongside the private and personal engagement with culture and the arts that is an essential element of so many people’s happiness, it is a valuable and essential statement by society as a whole that the world of the imagination sits at the heart of what we are as a society and a nation. It is a badge of our civilisation that we communicate art and culture both individually and collectively, and WNO and the BBC are proud to join in doing that essential work.

Catch up on the discussion with a recap of the WNO Twitter debate: ‘Will Austerity Kill Culture?’ and take part in the ongoing conversation using the hashtag #killculture

You can also read David Pountney’s response in the Guardian to the impact of austerity measures on the arts in the run up to the 2015 general election.

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