No guarantees on future of ‘Valleywood’

The long-term future of ‘Valleywood’ remains in question after Labour’s Business Minister declined to give any guarantees on the studio’s lease by an American TV company.

The Welsh government announced Fox 21 would effectively take up residency at Dragon International Studios in September, where it would continue filming TV series The Bastard Executioner. The end of that show has recently been announced by its creator.

The Pencoed studio – dubbed ‘Valleywood’ – has had a disappointing past and had been in the hands of administrators since 2008.

In her response to a Welsh Conservative written question on the latest developments there, Labour’s business minister said:

The Minister for the Economy, Science and Transport (Edwina Hart): This is disappointing news. We have an ongoing dialogue with Fox 21 regarding its long-term commitment to Dragon Studios, future opportunities for Wales and the support Welsh Government can provide.

That’s prompted calls for more transparency on the government’s work with TV and film studios in Wales by Welsh Conservatives.

A 30 million pounds Media Investment Budget has been allocated to the industry but the Labour government has so far refused to give further details on how much money has been allocated to individual projects or sites.

In February 2014, it was estimated that the welcome launch of Pinewood Studios Wales would bring 90 million pounds to the Welsh economy. It is not known exactly how many productions have been filmed at the site but a remake of The Crow – announced by the Welsh government – has yet to get off the ground.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Culture, Suzy Davies AM, said: “Valleywood has had a troubled life in Wales so far and it’s clear that the minister can give no guarantees on its long-term future.

“At 60 thousand square feet, that’s a huge site with incredible potential, and it’s both disappointing and frustrating when the glitz and glamour of ministerial photo opportunities turns to eerie silence.

“If you’re happy to launch a deal to lease a studio to much applause, you must also be happy to explain what happens if it goes wrong.

“Welsh taxpayers deserve to have far more detail on the funds going into all projects like this, so they can make up their own minds on success, failure and value for money.

“The creative industries must be championed in Wales and, while the sector has had much success, there have clearly been a number of high profile false starts.

“That may go part and parcel with an industry I am convinced can still go from strength to strength – but when you’re throwing public money at those projects, the public deserve an explanation.”