Conwy and Denbighshire boast a range of locally, nationally and internationally important historic sites and both play host to numerous festivals and cultural events. These contribute to the cultural wellbeing of the area. Tourism offers the two local authority areas the chance to promote their cultural assets and makes a significant contribution to economic wellbeing.
Education is a key factor in enabling the development of a vibrant culture. Our schools and colleges have a key role to play by exposing learners to arts and literature including national and local traditions in the English and Welsh Languages. Our educational structures also have a particular role in protecting and promoting the Welsh language as medium of expression across subject areas and in commercial and community life.
The 2011 Census estimates that in Conwy there are 30,600 and in Denbighshire there are 22,236, people aged 3 or over who are able to speak Welsh. This is a significant proportion of our populations (27.4% and 24.6% respectively) so it is important that our services are offered through the medium of Welsh.
The National Survey for Wales, a large-scale survey of adults in Wales, allows us to monitor the vitality of the Welsh language on an annual basis. In 2017/18, 25% of people in Conwy and 29% of people (16+) in Denbighshire said they could speak Welsh. 17% of people in Conwy and 13% in Denbighshire said that they are fluent in Welsh. Of significant concern is the daily use of the language: 17% of all people use it daily in Conwy and 14% in Denbighshire.
Good communication is essential to good health, particularly between service users and health professionals meaning that promotion of the Welsh language is of key importance; particularly, as we have highlighted, in dementia patients who may only understand or be able to communicate in their first language as their illness progresses.
Research at the Wales level suggests that the use of Welsh is in long term decline. Further work is needed to further develop our understanding of the trends locally. What is apparent though, is that the limited use of Welsh in daily life – which is arguably the strongest indicator of the vitality of the language – is of great concern.
The two counties are well placed to take advantage of heritage related tourism opportunities attracting domestic and international tourists. This revenue stream is essential as the maintenance cost of our historic sites, including the world heritage site is like to increase.
The crafts sector could be an opportunity for growth. There is growing interest across the UK in shopping locally and ethically, and more and more people desire hand crafted products by skilled makers.