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Fusion: Creating opportunities through culture

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Economy Secretary, Ken Skates has announced that over £200,000 worth of grants will be awarded to eight partnerships across Wales.
The Welsh Government will invest nearly £300,000 this year to create more opportunities for people to engage in culture and the arts and drive up volunteering  in the sector.
An innovative new programme using the arts, culture and heritage to support some of our most disadvantaged communities has seen over 1,500 people take part in activities during its pilot year.
The Pioneer Area programme seeks to supports local authorities and Communities First clusters to find new opportunities for people to enjoy and take part in cultural activities.
The Fusion: Tackling Poverty through Culture programme will bring together Communities First and cultural bodies for the first time to engage with and inspire young people and adults.
This document outlines the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure’s vision for Culture in Wales.
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© National Museum of Wales
We want to encourage and empower people to take an active part in the arts, culture and heritage.

Taking part in cultural activity can benefit many people through:

  • transforming their confidence and motivation
  • gaining the skills, experience and qualifications to help them find work
  • supporting learning for all ages
  • improving their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Our Fusion innovative programme is working to break down barriers and to encourage everyone to take part and enjoy these benefits. The programme is contributing to many of the goals of the Well-being of Future Generations Act, particularly:

  • A Wales of cohesive communities
  • A Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language.


The recommendations in Baroness Andrews’ report Culture and Poverty have been progressed through Fusion: Creating Opportunities through Culture, established in 2015. In the pilot phase, which ran until 2017, 10 coalitions of cultural and community bodies developed new cultural activity and adapted existing programmes to support the Communities First programme delivered in many of the most deprived areas across Wales. This enabled a wide range of cultural organisations to contribute to a shared anti-poverty agenda by developing new, exciting opportunities for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Activities included digital heritage programmes, schemes to encourage young people and their families to visit museums, volunteering and work experience, and projects using heritage to encourage healthier lifestyles. During the pilot phase, the programme worked with over 150 partners and over 5,000 participants. Through taking part in a range of cultural activities, more than 300 volunteered, 1,500 were supported to do better at school, 1,250 supported to live healthier lives and more than 100 participants gained a qualification. 

We have published an evaluation report that showed that the Fusion programme in its first pilot year in 2015-16 made a real difference to people’s lives. It also helped to show:

  • what activity is most effective in supporting people in the most deprived communities in Wales
  • what local and national support is needed to enable this
  • where best to target funding and other support such as training.

We have also published an evaluation report on the second year of the Fusion pilot phase in 2016-17. This focused on the impact of the programme for the cultural sector, and key findings include:

  • Cultural organisations are targeting activities more effectively at people experiencing poverty. 
  • Organisations are collaborating more effectively to deliver within disadvantaged communities. 
  • Individuals experiencing poverty in their communities were accessing cultural activities more as a result of the Fusion programme. 
  • Infographic

Action in 2017-18

Building on the pilot phase, the Fusion Programme is being strengthened and developed in 2017-18. It will remain aligned to wider Welsh Government policy for supporting resilient communities.  Fusion: Creating Opportunities through Culture will continue to be an innovative, low-cost intervention that will focus on promoting:

  • employability and skills, particularly through accredited skills and courses, VARTE (Volunteering as a Route to Employment) and training placements
  • cultural programmes that support confidence and empowerment, particularly for young people
  • culture as a tool to improve physical and mental health and wellbeing
  • supporting the early years through literacy and family learning programmes.

In February 2017, we launched a new Fusion Challenge Grants programme. Successful applicants will be responsible for delivering strategic cultural projects linked to employability, empowerment, early years and family learning, and health and wellbeing. To help bodies work together effectively and target their resources, they will be asked to meet and report outcomes against seven Fusion performance measures.

Details of the successful Fusion Challenge Grant participants, together with an overview of how the programme will be delivered in 2017-18, can be downloaded below.

For further information contact: