As we approach the end of 2016, the implications of this years' momentous events are becoming clearer. Wales will be poorer in many ways outside the European Union, including culturally. In recent weeks I have been speaking to writers, musicians and people who work in the media and arts sector about the impact on them. While everyone has naturally been focussed on jobs, the economy and exports, we have barely started to think about the impact on culture.
The impact will be huge. I spoke at a meeting in Brussels last week organised by Culture Action Europe which explored this very issue. People representing many different companies and organisations were united in the view that leaving the EU was very damaging for art and culture. The Welsh Arts Council recently published a survey of 73 arts and culture organisations which showed that their main concern was a restriction on the freedom of movement within the EU. It would make touring much more expensive as well as adding to the cost of artists coming to Wales. Just think of how many singers and dancers come to Llangollen for the Eisteddfod every year. It would put people off taking part if travelling to Wales became more expensive and more complex.
That's one of the reasons why a massive 96% of those who work in the creative industries voted to stay in the European Union. The nature of culture is collaborative and international. It enables us to express who we are to the wider world and to give Wales an international profile. It enables us to learn from other countries and teach them too.
Wales is a very European nation and always has been. We are bilingual and musical. We have a strong sense of identity and history. Culture is a reflection of the society we live in and that society is European as well as Welsh. That's why I will keep working for an agreement with the EU that doesn't take away our freedom to travel, to live, work and study in other European countries. It's been of tremendous benefit, particularly to young people, and one we can't afford to lose.