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At Arm's Length: Recollections and Reflections on the Arts, Media and a Young Democracy

Published by Seren

ISBN: 9781854114365

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Devolution to Wales and Scotland may prove to have been the most profound change in the UK in recent years. The consequences are far-reaching, and not just political. Geraint Talfan Davies, media and arts executive for more than three decades, recalls and reflects on the impact of this development for culture and civil society.

A view from well beyond the M25 – informed by Wales and the North East of England – his experiences have a resonance and a significance for all parts of 'a lazy British union'; charting the decline of regional newspapers, the collapse of ITV’s regional mission, the London-centric nature of the media and a threat to the independence of the arts.

At Arm's Length includes a graphic account to a successful battle to maintain the arm's length principle in arts funding and a plea for a greater role for the arts in society. It also portrays a small and fledgling democracy, and its struggle to sustain a local, national voice in the face of the contemporary forces of globalisation and the increasing centralisation of government and the media.

"The story is beautifully told, with diary entries, dramatic suspense, humour and wickedly accurate pen portraits all brought into play... From the cover of his book Talfan looks out from a magnificent portrait taken by his daughter-in-law Betina Skovbro. The neat, clean-cut features are unmistakable, as is the glint of adolescent mischievousness in the eyes. The text within is as revealing as the portrait."
New Welsh Review

Geraint Talfan Davies has been at the centre of Welsh cultural life – in both languages – for over thirty years. He was a newspaper journalist, and a senior executive in ITV, BBC and the arts before becoming the embattled Chairman of the Arts Council of Wales. He is currently chairman of Welsh National Opera and the Institute of Welsh Affairs. His experience as both an observer of public life and as a participant – in Welsh and British organisations – has given him a unique perspective on devolved government and the relationship between the 'nations and regions' of the UK.
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