Latest blog posts/entries

The Canary and the Hammer

Posted on March 23, 2017 by

Senior Lecturer in Documentary Photography, Lisa Barnard has unveiled a new body of work in response to the financial crisis of 2008.

The work, The Canary and the Hammer, is being launched at the FORMAT festival in Derby today (Thursday 23 March).

Lisa travelled across the World for the project, which has been funded by a Getty Images Prestige Grant. The project has also been supported by the Creative Industries Research Institute (CIRI) and the European Centre for Documentary Research (eCDR).

Lisa, said: “The project as a whole is a response to the financial crisis of 2008 and its exposure of the western world’s determination to accumulate wealth. Like the ‘canary’ taken into the mine, gold is the gauge by which we monitor our environment; the hammer the tool that smashes the structures to which it is embedded. Gold provides a prism through which globalism can be refracted and each topic represents a different strand, underpinned by a peculiar act of faith in its value. Ultimately, gold – mysterious, powerful, singular – is a material substance that fuses together these different versions of striving for knowledge, beauty, wealth and inordinate power.

“The discovery of hidden stories about Gold has been fascinating. I have worked with some fantastic communities including the women of Santa Filomena high up in the Andes in Peru, known as the ‘Pallaqueras’ and with communities in Southern China that are working with hazardous materials to extract precious metals from E-waste (electronic waste).

“I have also collaborated with academics in from other university institutions and businesses within China and here in the UK, creating imagery around research into the creation, extraction and uses of Gold nanoparticles. The project in its entirety has facilitated an engagement with specialists in the field of gold and enabled me to develop a thorough investigation into an extraordinary precious metal that has a number of particular and peculiar qualities.”

Wyn Mason travels to China to cast Chinese actor for his Rhith Gân / Song of Illusion play

Posted on March 22, 2017 by

Wyn Mason received funding from Wales Arts International, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru and Media Music Drama Research Group at the University of south Wales to travel to China and meet potential partners for staging his play Rhith Gân / Song of Illusion in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Wyn visited the Shangai Dramatic Arts Centre and met with Prof. Ceri Sherlock, Dean of Drama at The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

The play won the Drama Medal at the Maldwyn National Eisteddfod in 2015. It is based on the prize-winning album ‘Y Bardd Anfarwol’ by USW PhD Student Gareth Bonello (The Gentle Good). The play is directed by Sara Lloyd, Associate Director of Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru and Gareth Bonello is the Music Director. The Designer is Luned Gwawr Evans, the Sound Designer is Gareth Brierly, and Ceri James is the Lighting Director.

Professor Tony Curtis reads from his New and Selected Poems

Posted on March 22, 2017 by

Present and past students, fellow writers, friends and friends of friends are welcome to a chance to celebrate fifty years of the finest poetry from Tony Curtis, gathered in his New & Selected Poems, From The Fortunate Isles.

Poet, short story writer, playwright, art critic and founder of the Creative Writing programme at Glamorgan (USW), Tony Curtis returns to Treforest celebrating 50 years’ work as one of the defining writing voices of Wales ¬– humane, imaginative, deeply informed by history.

The event is free on FRIDAY, 24th March – 6.30 – in The Moot Court, Ty Crawshay
University of South Wales, Treforest CF37 1DL (entrance off Llantwit Rd).

Prof. Katy Holloway Inaugural Lecture

Posted on March 17, 2017 by

Shooting up and coming down: the highs and lows of drug research in Criminology

4th April 2017, 6pm
USW Conference Centre, Treforest Campus

In her inaugural professorial lecture, Professor Katy Holloway will reflect on different moments in her research career.  She will draw on her experiences as an undergraduate Psychology student, a Research Assistant in the Home Office Police Research Group, a Data Analyst in the Institute for Criminology at the University of Cambridge and her time as a Fellow, Reader and Professor at the University of South Wales. 

During the lecture, Katy will consider the highs and lows of conducting research in the field of substance misuse and demonstrate how the philosophy of harm reduction has underpinned her research every step of the way.

Katy was appointed Professor of Criminology at the University of South Wales in July 2013. Previously, Katy worked as a data analyst in the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge after completing her PhD there in 2000. In 2002, Katy moved to Wales to take up a Research Fellowship at the University of Glamorgan (now the University of South Wales) and in 2008 she became a Reader in Criminology and a permanent member of the Criminology team.

During the course of her academic career, Katy’s research has focused on illegal drug use. She has conducted studies that have investigated a wide range of drug-related issues including: drug use among arrestees, the causal connection between drug use and crime among prisoners, the effectiveness of drug treatment programmes, the use of Take-Home Naloxone among opiate users, the implementation of the Welsh Substance Misuse Strategy, and the characteristics of opiate overdose events. 

Katy is currently leading a study of drug and alcohol use among university students in Wales and a study of the misuse and diversion of opioid substitution medication. The philosophy of harm reduction underpins Katy’s research and she has recently been co-opted onto a sub-group of the Welsh Government’s Advisory Panel on Substance Misuse to review the evidence base on the effectiveness of safer injecting facilities in reducing harm and saving lives.

If you would like to attend this inaugural lecture, please contact Carol by phone 01443 482763 or e-mail:

ADHD conference

Posted on March 14, 2017 by

Professor Amanda Kirby will be attending and chairing/speaking at ADHD conference this Thursday, Taunton.

Her talk will be on: ADHD in the adolescent prison population, pathways into and away from offending.

Cynhadledd Cymraeg yn y Gweithle Welsh Workplace conference

Posted on March 10, 2017 by

Dr Rhiannon Helled Williams, a FBS member of the Centre for Media and Culture in Small Nations, organizes conference on Welsh-language in the workplace.

Who was Ursula Masson?

Posted on March 8, 2017 by

Professor Diana Wallace remembers Ursula Masson, the feminist, scholar and teacher, who set up the Centre for Gender Studies in Wales.

Read the feature on Ursula Masson

Dr Ruth McElroy presented evidence to the Culture, Welsh language and Communications committee in the Senedd

Posted on March 8, 2017 by

As part of our public work, Dr Ruth McElroy, co-director of the Centre for Media and Culture in Small Nations at the University of South Wales presented evidence at the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee in the Senedd earlier today.

See the webcast of the evidence in English and in Welsh here:

For further information, see the archive.

Dr Russell Roberts will be speaking at the Symposium Researching, Writing and Exhibiting Photography

Posted on March 7, 2017 by

Dr Russell Roberts will be speaking 'On Curating: Exhibitions from the Ground Up’ at the Symposium Researching, Writing and Exhibiting Photography at the University of Westminster, 8 April.

The Ursula Masson Memorial Lecture for International Women's Day 2017

Posted on March 3, 2017 by

‘“Delicate” and “troublous” questions: women teachers, gender issues and local education politics in south Wales, 1908-1928’ from Dr Sian Rhiannon Williams

Set against the background of the emergence of the feminist National Federation / Union of Women Teachers and the growing dominance of the labour movement in local politics, the lecture focuses on events in Aberdare and Rhondda before and after the First World War. Here, debates over the marriage bar, equal pay and other gender issues fuelled the activism of women teachers and inspired unity, but also exposed divisions and tested loyalties, thus creating tensions which reverberated more widely.

Wednesday 8 March, Ty Crawshay, Treforest Campus, University of South Wales.

The lecture will take place in the Moot Court, TC13, at 6pm to be followed by a wine reception and buffet in TC30 (the Zobole Room) and the university museum’s art gallery space, Oriel y Bont, from 7.15pm. More details on the lecture.

Marcus Ahmad was interviewed on Monday’s Wynne Evans’ BBC Wales radio

Posted on March 1, 2017 by

Senior lecturer BA Photography Marcus Ahmad was interviewed on Monday’s Wynne Evans’ BBC Wales radio show about getting the best out of your camera phone as well as the proliferation of “selfie-culture”.

Pitch at the Palace on tour

Posted on March 1, 2017 by

Professor Amanda Kirby spoke at Pitch at the Palace on tour at the Tramshed in Cardiff on Friday in the presence of HRH Prince Andrew.

She was discussing the benefits of applying to the Prince’s initiative to the tech companies in the health and social development space who were entering the competition.

She had been a previous 'alumni’ in 2016 with her tech company Do-IT Solutions. This is the first time the competition has come to Wales!

Raising Awareness

Posted on March 1, 2017 by

Professor Amanda Kirby visited the Minister for Disability Penny Mordaunt at Westminster on 27th February in order to raise awareness of adults with neurodiverse profiles with employers and those providing support into employment.

She has recently been involved writing the content for the relaunch of Hidden Impairment/Neurodiverse toolkit for DWP and also for the new Autism and Neurodiversity Toolkit for the Civil Service.

Response to DCMS’ PSB Contestable Fund Consultation

Posted on February 27, 2017 by

The Centre for Media and Culture in Small Nations coordinates research on media, culture, communication, theatre and performing arts in Wales through the frame of small nations globally. The Centre facilitates exchange between industry, policy makers, academics and the wider public through regional, national and international dialogue and collaborations. By working with funders and partners on a range of innovative projects, we contribute to an understanding of the distinct identities of small nations and their media systems.


1. (i) Should the fund be broadly or narrowly focused? (ii) On which genres and audiences should the fund be focused? a) Arts & classical music b) Children’s c) Religion and ethics d) Education e) Factual f) Nations & Regions g) Diversity (i.e. content for/about protected groups) h) Other, please specify.

It is important that the Contestable Fund maintains clear sight of which specific problem(s) it is trying to solve. There is an unhelpful slippage in parts of this consultation document between a tight focus on genre and much broader consideration of audiences. For example, as presented, this list of options implies that nations and regions programming cannot entail arts or religion content. This clearly is not the case.

We would support a broad focus in the pilot phase. Specifically, we would advocate the fund begin from the point of considering the holistic service expectations UK audiences have of public service broadcasters including the commercial PSBs who have seen a reduction in the range of their PSB delivery.

In Wales, there is considerable public support for public service broadcasting. However, there is considerable evidence pointing towards a severe lack of programming reflecting Wales in the English language in a very wide range of genres including arts, comedy, drama, entertainment, religion and science.

As Tony Hall, Director General of the BBC acknowledged in April 2014 ‘English language programming from and for Wales has been in decline for almost a decade’ which now means that ‘there are some aspects of national life in Wales that are not sufficiently captured by the BBC’s own television services in Wales, and I would include comedy, entertainment and culture in those categories’ (Hall 2014).

Figure 1 in this consultation document risks giving a misleading impression of genre output by solely providing UK-wide figures. It also fails to represent the impact of substantial funding cuts to the sole Welsh-language television service, S4C.

An appreciation of the specific under-provision of PSB in each of the UK nations is necessary if contestable funding is genuinely going to lead to perceptible improvements across the UK and adequately represent the devolved realities of media policy and provision in the nations (see McElroy et al 2017).

2. (i) Should the fund extend to radio as well as TV? (ii) If so, how should the proportion of the fund available for radio content be capped? a) 5% b) 10% c) 15% d) Other, please specify.

Yes, we support the suggestion that the fund extend to radio as well as TV.

Radio, in its diverse commercial, community and PSB forms, plays a part in the media lives of the majority of British adults. It offers significant benefits in terms of cost and a relatively shorter production phase which may prove especially beneficial during this pilot.

The expansion of original audio content between platforms, for example through podcasting online, testifies to the capacity of radio to bring diverse audiences together, reaching out beyond the immediate listenership and reaching new audiences often across national boundaries.

We believe that this contestable fund should consider how supported radio content might be shared and transferred between platforms in order to inform our understanding of the world, stimulate knowledge and learning, to reflect UK cultural identity and represent diverse viewpoints.

We do not have a view on the specific percentage to be available for radio, though we think it should not be at the very lowest end of the spectrum named here.

3. With regards to ensuring that content is free-to-access and made widely available, what platforms should be available to content funded by the contestable pot? a) Linear broadcast only b) Linear and associated broadcaster on-demand platforms c) Linear, on-demand and other online platforms (such as YouTube).

In principle, we support c) given the realities of the digital media ecology and evolving patterns of media consumption. However, there are issues to be considered carefully here and if these cannot be addressed, then we would see (b) as a credible measure for this pilot phase.

We identify the following issues in including ‘other online platforms’

a) Regulatory control – this consultation document rightly emphasizes the need for supported content to be free-to-access and made widely available but it is not entirely clear how the contestable fund could ensure this on digital platforms that are not regulated from within the UK nor how this would work over a longer time period.

b) Findability – while the growth of diverse online platforms offers genuine opportunities to co-produce and share original content, audiences still need to find this content in the first place. Consideration must therefore be given to how the content will be made known and readily accessible to all across the UK and across generational and socio-economic divides.

c) Language – digital platforms offer genuine opportunities for minority-language audiences and content. However, in a context where English remains the dominant language of the internet, consideration should be given to the particular needs of minority-language content producers in securing and sustaining access to minority-language content online beyond the existing catch-up provision.

The speed of the change of audiences interacting with audio visual content are reflected in the figures supplied by S4C in their Press Release 06/01/2017 ‘Views double in three months for S4C.’

‘ The viewing figures for video content that S4C makes available via social media sites have doubled from over a million to over two million in three months. Last September S4C digital content was watched over a million times for the first time ever – then in December 2016 it was viewed over two million times. Since implementing new working practises with S4C’s social media in October 2015 the number of views for video content on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube has gradually been increasing. After reaching 737,200 in August 2016, the number of times that video content has been viewed in September 2016 passed the million mark and in December was viewed 2,235,543 times’.

4. Which of the following broadcasting/distribution criteria should be placed upon qualifying bids? a) Broadcaster/platform guarantee not required in bid b) Broadcaster/platform guarantee required in bid c) Award permitted “in principle” subject to broadcaster/platform guarantee within a particular timescale.

Given the timeframe of the pilot phase, it is tempting to support option (b).

However, option (b) risks reproducing the very problem the contestable fund is seeking to solve. Making PSB support for this content conditional for funding could be seen as putting gatekeeper control in the hands of the very organisations that have failed to deliver sufficient PSB content to date in these key genres and service areas.

It may be difficult to navigate the protocols needed to access the confirmation of the broadcaster and/or distributor. We may lose the content and personnel in protracted ‘sign off’ assurances and under serve the potential PSB content and audiences. Option c) may therefore be preferable.

Putting this in the context also of question 3 above, it is unclear what platform guarantees would mean for any content not commissioned for broadcast via established broadcasters (e.g. what would a YouTube guarantee look like, for example and how could it be enforced over a period of time?).

5. (i) To what extent do you agree with the pilot administration model (figure 5)? (ii) If not what other options should be considered?

This seems broadly fine. However, administrative expertise must reflect the specific characteristics of service provision in the different nations of the UK including the bilingual nature of their media ecologies and the substantial scale of under provision within Wales.

This seems broadly fine. However, administrative expertise must reflect the specific characteristics of service provision in the different nations of the UK including the bilingual nature of their media ecologies and the substantial scale of under provision within Wales.

6. To what extent do you agree that the BFI is a lead candidate to administer the fund?

BFI is a credible candidate for consideration given its experience in awarding production and development funding competitively.

However, the extent to which it has genuine insight into the diverse broadcasting markets and audiences of the UK nations is far less clear.

Moreover, the perception could be that audio-visual media will be better served than radio given the existing profile of the BFI.

Other organisations worth considering and with the experience to administer the funds are the Arts Councils of the UK nations. These are Arts Council England, the Scottish Arts Council, the Arts Council of Wales and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. They have close relationships with communities and diverse third-sector organisations in the broadest sense. They also have the infrastructure to administer the funds along with existing relationships and reputational awards.

The Arts Council for Wales supports a bilingual policy. We cannot identify a BFI bilingual platform. This will likely create a perception of not being inclusive within Wales.

7. Which of the following conditions do you think should be placed on successful funding awards: a) The fund should require matched funding from broadcaster/platform or other commercial partners b) The fund should be able to recoup up to the amount granted to a successful programme c) The fund should grant money by way of an equity investment d) Other, please specify.

Requiring match funding from the broadcaster/platform is an appealing proposition as it would place some responsibility with them to deliver improved PSB content provision. The under-representation of certain forms of PSB content is a problem of demand which stems largely from a reduction in or outright lack of commissioning in certain key genres and service areas.

However, as stated in response to Q1 above, the scale of the problem in Wales – i.e. major deficits in arts, children’s, drama, entertainment, religion and science programming – may make it hard to secure match funding for a broad range of potential proposals. A recent report, ‘The Big Picture’ by the National Assembly for Wales, Culture Welsh Language and Communications Committee (February 2017) noted that BBC should spend an extra £30 million on programming for Wales. Research undertaken by the Institute for Welsh Affairs in its 2015 Wales Media Audit Report testifies to the scale of under provision in Wales (IWA 2015).

Careful consideration is required to ensure this proposed contestable fund does not place Welsh-language providers at a disadvantage, in light of S4C’s unique position and uncertainty about its longer-term funding. This point may also pertain to Q4 above.

8. Which of the following criteria should the fund consider in respect of judging bids for funding? a) Quality b) Innovation c) Additionality d) Nations and Regions e) Diversity f) New Voices g) Other, please specify.

We understand the importance of all these areas within PSB. However, the overriding criteria should be that the award demonstrate clearly how it would improve the provision of currently under represented PSB provision.

The other criteria listed here will overlap and may indeed skew the content in order to fit within the specified requirements for judging bids. They may actually narrow the content and could lose some of the essence by being tailored to such specific criteria.

9. How can “additionality” (i.e. ensuring the funding is not replicating funding that would otherwise have been available) best be assessed?

This is a vital question and one which goes to the heart of the challenge facing the contestable fund as a policy lever designed to solve a very broad and, by now, relatively long-standing problem.

Unless the contestable fund is put to work alongside other policy levers, the result will likely be that it will plug only a few of the holes left by many years of under-commissioning PSB content in these key areas.

Indeed the contestable fund could look like a bureaucratic and costly shorter-term programme achieving results that might have been achieved equally as well by reviewing existing and recently lost quotas for PSB provision. Notable here, for example, are historic quotas for children’s media and the network portrayal objectives now being used across all genres within the BBC (see Lord Hall’s evidence to the National Assembly for Wales’ Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee, 2 November 2016).

Improved provision in the nations and regions by BBC has been promised by Lord Hall and the BBC has recently appointed Ken MacQuarrie as Director of Nations and Regions. However, it is unclear what level of spend or what criteria for the allocation of funding will be used by MacQuarrie.

Transparency and accountability for all broadcasters’ investment is vital if additionality is to be assessed. This requirement for transparency and accountability should be placed on all broadcasters with any level of PSB commitments and not on the BBC alone. The future provision of diverse PSB content can only be evaluated when looked at holistically and not with regards to any one broadcaster only. ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and S4C – in different ways and to different degrees – all make substantial contributions to the UK’s plural provision, to our cultural life, and to the capability of the UK’s broadcasting system to sustain an informed, educated and entertained citizenry.

This Contestable Fund pilot phase looks likely be introduced during a period of major change for the UK in the context of Brexit. This consultation makes no reference to Brexit or to the specific areas of concern felt by producers given uncertainty in their operating environment. One such area of uncertainty is longer-term access to the Creative Europe programme.

The Creative Europe programme supports the UK’s creative sector including audiovisual companies providing PSB content. In Wales, for example, the bilingual drama Hinterland/Y Gwyll made by the independent production company Fiction Factory and enjoyed in Welsh by S4C’s viewers and in English by both BBC Wales and BBC 4’s viewers, received substantial MEDIA funding without which it is unlikely the series would have been made.

We would urge the reviewers of this consultation to reflect carefully on what the implications of a contestable fund might be in a (post) Brexit environment. Further, we suggest reviewers draw on expertise (including responses to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s inquiry into the impact of Brexit on the creative industries and the single digital market) to ensure that changes in access to European funding do not impinge of the aim of making significant improvements to under provision of PSB content in the UK.


Hall, T. 2016. Evidence to National Assembly for Wales. The Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee.

Hall, T. 2014. “Speech Given by Tony Hall, BBC Director-general, at the National Assembly for Wales Reception on 1 April 2014.”

Institute for Welsh Affairs (2015) Wales Media Audit.

McElroy, R., Papagiannouli, C. and Wiliam, H. (2017) ‘Broadcasting after devolution: policy and critique in the Welsh media landscape 2008–2015’, International Journal of Cultural Policy,

National Assembly for Wales, Culture Welsh Language and Communications Committee. 2017. The Big Picture. The Committee’s Initial Views on Broadcasting in Wales. Cardiff.

Dr Ruth McElroy
Co-director of the Centre for Media and Culture in Small Nations.
01443 668591

Dr Lisa Lewis
Co-director of the Centre for Media and Culture in Small Nations
01443 668533

Photojournalism student Lorna Cabble featured on WalesOnline

Posted on February 21, 2017 by

Photojournalism student Lorna Cabble’s images are featured on WalesOnline in a story on the Get Home Safe project, which ensures people on nights out in Cardiff are looked after.

Celia Jackson features in a story about the 'Love Pontypool' family fun day in the South Wales Argus

Posted on February 21, 2017 by

Celia Jackson, Senior Lecturer in Photography at the University of South Wales, is mentioned in the South Wales Argus in a story on the ‘Love Pontypool’ family fun day, in which she encouraged visitors to try pinhole photography – a technique used in her latest exhibition.

For further details about her exhibition, please see the Free Press.

Final year photojournalism student Rebecca Saunders featured in Horse magazine.

Posted on February 21, 2017 by

Final year photojournalism student Rebecca Saunders has had one of her final pieces of work ‘A horse with no name’ published in the March edition of Horse magazine.

Lisa Barnard features in Behind the Camera: Creative Techniques of 100 Great Photographers book

Posted on February 21, 2017 by

Lisa Barnard, Senior Lecturer in Documentary Photography at the University of South Wales, features in Paul Lowe’s Behind the Camera: Creative Techniques of 100 Great Photographers book.

Lowe notes in the book:

“Barnard combines images, video, text, and installations in her work to expand the vocabulary she uses to engage with the difficult ideas she tackles. She believes that her practice reflects a contemporary documentary stance, engaging with complex ideas visually, using a variety of different forms and strategies, including text and appropriated material. However she clearly demonstrates that form and content must work together, the ideas must be sound and deep as well as the images resonant. Barnard says that research is the most important aspect of her practice, and she always starts with reading and listening, The visual aesthetic should not feel like an afterthought, to make the work appear contemporary.” (Lowe, 2016, p. 88)

Paul Reas is included in a new major exhibition and book on Creating the Countryside

Posted on February 21, 2017 by

The work of Documentary Photography Course Leader Paul Reas is included in a new major exhibition and book exploring our relationship with the countryside.

‘Creating the Countryside’ Thomas Gainsborough to today will open at the Compton Verney gallery and will be published by Paul Holberton Publishing on the 17th of March.

Exhibition synopsis:
Compton Verney’s 2017 season opens with a major exhibition examining the rural idyll past and present.

In an increasingly urbanised world, the idea of the countryside as a restorative place of escape shapes the popular image of rural life and landscape. Creating the Countryside explores the roots of these associations and how they are reflected in the world around us.

Works by artists including John Constable, Thomas Gainsborough and George Stubbs are joined by pieces from artists including Grayson Perry, Mat Collishaw and others to present fresh perspectives on the notion of our ‘green and pleasant land’.

The exhibition is curated by Verity Elson, Compton Verney and Dr Rosemary Shirley, Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Book synopsis:

From High Art to propaganda, garden centres to air fresheners, contemporary art to computer games-a constellation of powerful images and ideas contribute to our understanding of the rural. This publication offers new ways of thinking about how the idea of the British countryside has been created, through the innovative integration of a wide range of art and visual cultures. These include classic landscapes by artists such as Claude, Constable and Turner, works of modern British art, and contemporary works by artists who present new perspectives on the rural idyll.

Glen Manby's new album was recommended as jazz album of the week in The Observer

Posted on February 21, 2017 by

Music lecturer Glen Manby (FCI)’s new album, Homecoming, was recommended as jazz album of the week in The Observer on Sunday.

The Glen Manby Quintet. Photograph: Glen Manby