This year marks the IWA's first quarter of a century, an era that has seen a transformation in the political, economic and cultural fortunes of Wales. Twenty-five years ago the Welsh economy was still dominated by heavy industry coming apart in the wake of the miners’ strike. Welsh politics were in thrall to a Quango-driven state. Meanwhile a little-noticed cultural revival was gathering pace.
Today that era looks altogether like sepia-veiled history. In its place Welsh democracy has been born with the creation of the National Assembly that was granted primary legislative powers in last year’s referendum. While still struggling with the downturn, the Welsh economy has broken free of what 25 years ago was a third-world structure and developed a more balanced profile. Meanwhile, Welsh culture has flourished with sport, the arts and the media all gaining recognition on the world stage. Throughout these 25 years these changes have been closely followed, analysed and promoted by the activities of the Institute. In this period our size and influence has grown in response to the emergence of Wales’s civic culture. We now have a staff of six, a high-powered Board of Trustees reflecting every aspect of Welsh life, over 1,000 individual members, more than 100 Fellows, and 150 corporate members. We have developed a branch network that covers the whole of Wales, produced a raft of publications including our journal Agenda, and launched a daily online news magazine ClickonWales.
To celebrate our 25th anniversary we have published 25/25 Vision: Welsh Horizons across 50 years, a collection of essays in which 25 writers cast their minds back over their experience of the past quarter-of-a-century in Wales and reflect on what this inspires them to hope for in the next 25 years. Please click here for a description of the book. It will be an opportunity for us to look forward to what we can hope our country will achieve in the next few decades and plan for the continuing contribution that will be made by the Institute. It will be a moment to reflect that all our achievements and our continuing contribution depends on the vital support of our members. As a charitable trust we rely on our membership to sustain us and to guarantee our independence. Without the membership the IWA would not exist and Wales would lose part of the intelligence that is so vital in steering its course.