Letter from Wales: £400,000 for a man snoring in a telescope!

by Julian Ruck

Skint UK? Ed Balls’ scrutinising of every pound? Don’t be daft this is the Arts Council of Wales!

And as if the £400,000 of tax-payers’ money for a Welsh contemporary artist to strut his stuff (no disrespect to said artist) at the Venice Biennale isn’t enough, it took the CEO of the Arts Council of Wales, one Nick Capaldi and six of his ACW cronies to tag along and hold his hand!

But what about the expenses the taxpayer has also forked up for? Following my FoI requests (12,13, 17th June 2013) it turns out we have paid  £260.00 per night for hotels and a damn your eyes to LateRooms.com and a brew of Tetley in a Venetian back alley.

Apart from Mr Capaldi’s £1,981.20 (for 4 nights), we have a real beauty: Professor Dai Smith, chair of the ACW not only claimed £1709.49 from the tax-payer for his three day Venetian jolly but his own book “Dream On” (you can say that again!) published last May, was also paid for by the tax-payer. Oh and he doesn’t like “nutters” like me scrutinising his artistic efforts either, I’m told.

Here are the expenses for the rest of ACW’s party-goers:-

David Alston (£1636.77 for his 4 nights) Arts Director ACW;  Louise Wright (£1569.85 for 4 nights) ACW Commissioner for the Biennale no less; Eluned Haf (£1638.51 for 4 nights) ACW Director of Wales Arts International; Sian James (£1,964.77 for 4 nights) ACW Press Officer and not forgetting Osi Rhys Osmond (£1687.16 for 4 nights), an Arts Council Member and Chair of Advisory Committee?

Now you may be thinking why all these people are needed for a quick few second turn on BBC Wales’ Today programme. Jobs for the boys time again perhaps? The usual old suspects again? You would also be forgiven for wondering why it needs 7 people to do the same thing and enjoy an expensive city break at tax-payers’ expense, while they are at it?

Classic devolved Welsh replication of jobs maybe?

CEO Nick Capaldi was quoted as saying about the Venetian visual art extravaganza, “It’s the Formula 1 of the visual arts world, in that a Formula 1 racing car has little in common with the family hatchback other than four wheels and a steering wheel”.

Excuse me? Sorry to disabuse you Nick, but right now many people in this country are struggling to keep a four-wheeled pram on the road and  you’re also dead right about the exhibition having little in common with the family hatchback man in the street – most of them are out there trying to hold on to a job.

But why should you worry, or your fellow tax-payer gravy train passengers? None of you are personally paying for it all. Wonderful!

I must point out here that the budget for this event was bigger than previous years. Seriously. Where the English Arts Council has taken some serious hair-cutting the Welsh artistic identity is apparently sacrosanct. Apart from the telescopic snoring man, a table covered in clothes pegs, an iron and a desk lamp is more important than let’s say, a good few computers for failing Welsh schools and children.

The arrogance, the unmitigated insensitivity and self-righteous pomposity of the Arts Council of Wales just plain beggars belief, and who funds it? Yes you’ve got it, the Welsh government, which in turn means no scrutiny, no accountability and do what you like.

How these people have the nerve to stand in front of a television camera with their hands in the tax-payer till while they are at it, and spout their elitist delusions is utterly beyond me.

People in this country are struggling, benefits are being cut as are essential services but Welsh Labour seems to think that £400,000 of tax-payers’ bucks for a bit of visual art and some high-brow pontificating is all just dandy.

God help the Welsh, god help Wales.

PS It has just come to my attention that Literature Wales (a sister quango of the Arts Council  of Wales and fully funded by it) is staging another book festival at Dinefwr castle next year.

Following Fo I requests, the 2012 book festival received £65,000 from the tax-payer. £15, 321.33 was the net amount received for ticket sales. £54,908.94 went to pay Welsh writers, poets, artists etc for fees and travel. £7,964.94 went on “running costs.”

I make that a £48,000 (near enough) loss to the tax-payer. Nothing like razor sharp business acumen is there? But then, it’s only the tax-payer forking up.

On its website it claims 2500 visitors turned up last year. Well, taking a mean £50 per ticket, that’s 300 odd people showing up by my estimate, rather shy of the 2500 claimed, I think you will agree.

In other words, most of the “visitors” were paid by the tax-payer to attend. Literature Wales has been contacted to explain this discrepancy but at the time of writing no such explanation has been forthcoming.

No doubt next year’s event will receive an increase in funding and yet again to hell with austerity and financial crashes.

This is Wales, and if you ask me it’s about time the two Eds took a serious look at what is really going on here, because all the above is merely an extremely sharp tip of a damned great iceberg.

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85 Responses to “Letter from Wales: £400,000 for a man snoring in a telescope!”

  1. Julian Ruck says:

    To v8boyo,

    The obsessive hasn’t gone away.

    He is just using yet another alias ie Johnny B


  2. Julian Ruck says:

    To v8boyo,

    PS And no doubt one ‘Ed Parke’ is from the tax-payer bloated Welsh publishing/writing community.

    Having no answer to fact, anonymous insult and personal abuse are their only seedy weapons, as illustrated so magnificently in these comment threads.


  3. Johnny B says:

    Ruck needs to tell us whether his festival sought money.
    I ask this because Ruck lied and lied about never having been rejected by Welsh publishers, but admitted it when it became clear that people had proof that he had.

    So since we are in such a confessional mood, I’d like to ask Ruck if , yes or so, he or his associate asked for money from local or county councils, or from the Welsh literary and arts organisations.

    He has form when it comes to telling lies about things like this, about having an agent, about sales figures etc., so it is important top get the facts into the public domain.

    Because the headline ‘Failed Writer, plagiarist and self-publisher spends rest of his life attacking those who rejected him’ is going to get a bit dull in the long run.

    My view on the whole business of Wales at the Biennale is this: Wales has some pretty good artists and writers , and punches above its weight in terms of talent. I’m a taxpayer myself and if I was Welsh I’d want my country represented at major art shows.

    No Daily Mail rants by plagiarists, homophobes and sexists like Julian Ruck, written in the style of a 12 year old bully, are going to change my mind.

    But hey ho, there are a lot of bitter and nasty individuals out there – the sight of people doing better than him makes Ruck green with envy.

  4. Joao Morais says:

    Mr Ruck
    As it happens John has made it to that pop festival going on over at Worthy Farm near Pilton, and he’ll probably stay for the tat/cleanup so he probably won’t be responding to this letter or the next.

    He has nothing to hide from you and always responds in his own name- had he not then he would be banned, as has happened to someone else on here. Labour Uncut should have our IP address so the editor could confirm this for you.

  5. stevemosby says:

    Julian –

    Since your columns here are generally concerned with criticising taxpayer funding of the arts, it would be appropriate for you to answer the question: did you seek such sponsorship for Kidwelly? It’s a simple yes or no, and a no would surely be both easy and useful for you to give, if true. An additional question would be whether you would have accepted, if it had been offered.

    Two simple questions that should be easy to give straightforward answers to. Are those answers “No”?

  6. voice of reason says:


    For me, it is entirely appropriate for a “letter from Wales” to include simple observations rather than a full blown media story on those observations. Surely it is to tickle interest and generate debate? (which it clearly has achieved ass we are all commenting). If I wanted to know more, I could always submit an FOI to the organisation concerned. Or perhaps the Wales media could snap up the fodder thrown down by Mr Ruck.

  7. David Hewson says:

    Voice or reason

    It depends whether you think ranting like a Daily Mail columnist on speed counts as ‘simple observations’. To try to whip up fury about Biennale spending is fine but a real columnist would also look at the wider picture and make clear his position (something Ruck rarely does, one suspects because he doesn’t know it).

    He says he’s not against public expenditure on the arts. But he fails to make clear what exactly he does support, only the items he hates. For example Welsh National Opera currently receives £10m in public funding, from both England and Wales.


    This is a lot of money. Does it pass the Ruck test? If so why? If not why not? It’s very easy to sit back and throw brickbats everywhere, all the while failing to make your own position clear. But that does not count as ‘debate’. And his submissions are invariably tainted by the suspicion that he’s actually aiming his ire at people who’ve rejected his own ‘literary’ efforts.

  8. Julian Ruck says:

    To voice of reason,

    The Welsh media have been informed ie BBC Wales, BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, ITV Wales, the Western Mail, Evening Post.

    Where BBC Wales and the Western Mail are concerned, I believe I have been blacklisted following my exposures re their own journalists (BBC Wales and the Western Mail) and presenters (not to mention BBC Wales’ own previous Controller Geraint Talfan Davies) having been in receipt of tax-payer money in respect of the publication of their ‘life stories’ eg Mal Pope, Owen Money, Chis Needs, the Western Mail’s Carolyn Hitt (her book on rugby).

    In Wales, the Welsh establishment are all in each others tax-payer pockets and I have the evidence to prove it, as they all well know thus the walls of silence where any right of reply or honest public debate is concerned.

    Please see the transcript of my public talk ‘Welsh Writing Sucks’ New York Daily News, for more detail.

    This can be found on my blog: julianruck.wordpress.com

    Thank you,

    Julian Ruck

  9. Julian Ruck says:

    To voice of reason,

    You will note the distinct absence of comment from any of those in the Welsh writing community on this blog.

    Why is that do you suppose?

    The only persistent naysayers on this blog, are those intent on anonymous smear and insult and two English authors who really ought to spend more time on their own books rather than fantasising about ways to descredit me.

    Julian Ruck

  10. David Hewson says:

    Oh dear. So it’s a conspiracy now and the media are in it too. The spectacle of Julian Ruck running round crying, ‘Infamy, infamy… they’ve all got it in for me’ doesn’t really ring true.

    No one needs to ‘descredit’ you because you do the job so admirably yourself. A year ago you said you were in the vanguard of the next wave of publishing with the Kidwelly Festival with this extraordinary claim, ‘As the best-selling author of the ‘Treharne Trilogy’ (Ragged Cliffs, Inheritance Lost, An Equal Judge), Julian has a wealth of experience of the writing trade and publishing industry, and regularly appears in the media, making him the perfect figurehead for the festival.’

    A ‘wealth of experience’? I’ve sold more than 20 books in more than 20 languages, one of them made into a movie, ten currently in development for TV, and currently have four books under contract with international publishers. I have a lot of experience of writing. I wouldn’t claim a ‘wealth of experience’ of publishing because I know it to be a highly complex multi-language, multi-territory business.

    Yet without a single sale to a known publisher or a moment working inside publishing you declared yourself to the world as someone who ‘knew the “transformative” power of the ebook, recognising how it enabled authors to eschew the “outdated” top-down publishing model and reach their audiences directly’. And lots more besides – the Q&A in that document has to be read to be believed.

    By the way I’m intrigued you claimed to have Mark Billingham as a judge?


    Did Mark know?

    I ask that question knowing you won’t answer it of course, just as you refuse to answer anything of substance here.

    Here’s the truth. The media aren’t ignoring you because they’re part of the conspiracy. They can just look at your own account of yourself and see what your credibility’s actually worth. Really if you want to be taken seriously try and get your facts right and understand how writing and journalism actually work. Right now you don’t have a clue.

  11. Julian Ruck says:

    To voice of reason,

    PS BBC ap Wales made sure they pre-recorded me for the Sunday Politics Show and and the weasel top-shelf Phil Rickman’s interview, who by the way started the interview by saying ‘You are a bitter and twisted man’.

    Needless to say that polite little comment to a guest I might add, was edited from the recording. He attended the Penfro Festival last year and no doubt received a tax-payer fee for his services.

    You can hardly see BBC ap Wales letting me loose on a live show, they know and I know, that I would dish the dirt on them in seconds.

    As a passing remark, you might also want to consider that one of their journalists, Rhun ap Iorwerth, has just left to become a Plaid Cymru candidate – doesn’t this just speak volumes as they say, about the culture at BBC ap Wales?

    All the best,

    Julioan Ruck

  12. Julian Ruck says:

    To voice of reason,

    PPS The producer of Top Shelf Phil’s show had to jump in sharpish with the mealy- mouthed words ‘that Rick was only playing the Devil’s Advocate’.

    In which case why did they edit his remarks?

    I’m still waiting for an apology.


  13. James says:

    I’ve missed quite a lot of this party, but I’m back from my travels to notice that Ruck is studiously avoiding answering the questions about whether he SOUGHT funding for his omnishambles of a book festival, and whether there is any relationship between his being rejected by Welsh publishers and his campaign of hate and smear against said publishers and their authors.

    I hate to repeat the mantra, but here goes: answer the questions, Ruck.

    If you’ve been blacklisted it’s far more likely to be because you’re a documented liar and a plagiarist than because you’re a whisteblower – the media is quite hospitable to genuine whistleblowers, they’re just suspicious of frauds who pretend they’re proper writers and won’t admit their crusade against arts in Wales comes from their rejection.

  14. James says:

    Mr Ruck:

    Phil Rickman, whoever he is, sounds bang on the money: you are bitter, because you’re now simply trying to get revenge on the people who rejected your books. It is well-known that you turned nasty when you were rejected by Seren and Parthian, and that your vendetta against them and their writers is pure and simple bitterness. This is also why you self-publish, and why your books aren;t available in bookshops – even in the WH Smiths you have your ‘readings’ in.

    You don’t need a degree in psychology to see the link between your erratic behaviour and your failure to get published. What amazes me is that this transparent bitterness and bile is something Labour Uncut can’t seem to see through.

  15. Julian Ruck says:

    To Hewson,

    20 books, 20 languages, films, TV?

    Then why on earth have you been obsessively trying to smear me for a year? As you consistently point out, I am a Mr Nobody.

    I may be a total ignoramus where the publishing industry is concerned but I know one thing, you are losing fans faster than the Queen farting during her Christmas message.


  16. James says:

    David Hewson,
    thanks for that link; it contains some pretty dodgy stuff:not only does Ruck claim that Mark Billingham will judge the young writers’ prize, but he charges a fee for entry of £15. Now, I’m not sure what happened to that money, but I do know that such prize was awarded in the end – despite Mr Ruck being on Youtube inviting entries and promising a prize for young writers.

    It beggars belief that a man with such a rotten record of festival organisation should rant about successful festivals. But then again, it beggars belief that a website with normally intelligent and original content should publish plagiarised material and Daily Mail rants from a bitter individual like Julian Ruck.

  17. Julian Ruck says:

    To Hewson,

    PS You know, for such a literary genius and ex-journalistic sage, and do forgive me for being such a spoilsport, but your own Amazon rankings are hardly anything to write home about are they?

    Indeed the last signing I did in WHS Brighton, none of your glorious books were anywhere to be seen.

    You wouldn’t by chance, be trying to generate some cheap publicity on Uncut in an attempt to put some fizz into your book sales now, would you?

    Good luck,


  18. “BBC ap Wales made sure they pre-recorded me for the Sunday Politics Show and and the weasel top-shelf Phil Rickman’s interview, who by the way started the interview by saying ‘You are a bitter and twisted man’.”

    Mr Ruck – to clarify, were those the first words he addressed to you? Or was he responding to something you’d said? When Phil interviewed me I found him entirely professional.

  19. James says:

    I meant of course to write ‘NO such prize was awarded in the end’.

    Ruck advertised a prize with a claim that a famous write would judge, charged and entry fee and then didn’t award the prize.


  20. Julian Ruck says:

    To Campbell,

    The very first words.

    I was quite takeb aback by his astonishing rudeness but then he is a member of the Welsh literati.

    And you should know by now, that I don’t put fanciful rubbish into the public domain, in spite of all the totally unevidenced and unsubstantiated garbage that comes from the Trolls.

    Believe me, there is plenty of correspondence I can draw on betwween myself and the BBC Trustees in London, and I’m not just talking about Top Shelf Phil, there is also the issue of their journalist Brian Meechan interviewing me about arts subsidies for the Library of Wales series, when he himself was a recipient of a £4000 handout from Literature Wales last year.

    I am more than familair with the law of libel Mr Campbell, so does it not strike you as odd, that to date NOT ONE individual or member of any Welsh organisation who has been the sublect of my exposures come forward to correct me – or try to sue me?????????

    Think about it, because there is sure as hell more to come.

    And if you think I’m lying, why hasn’t Top Shelf Phil come forward to deny what he said?? God knows this little episode had been in the public domain for nearly a year both on my blog and with the BBC Trustees in London.

    I repeat, let’s just see the contemptible little weasel try, and we can pull in his producer while we are at it.

  21. Julian Ruck says:

    To Campbell,

    And Top Shelf Phil is no better that all you other vitriolic critics who hide behind your pc’s and in Rickman’s case, a microphone.

    None of you will debate with me on a public platform with the press in attendance, even a Cardiff radio station couldn’t get anyone to debate with me.

    You are all cowards of the lowest order, you attack wearing the armour of anonymity and the knowledge that the internet will protect you.

    Not one of you spineless, weak, lily-livered and intensely toxic individuals will meet me head on and try to defend your case.

    You are all lower than contempt, and remind me of the bully boys at prep school.

    They didn’t get very far with me either.

    When they tried it on, they got a bloody nose.

    My Staffy and greyhound have more guts than you pathetic lot put together.


  22. Julian Ruck says:

    PS Club feet ‘an all!

  23. David Hewson says:


    Why is he ‘Top Shelf Phil’? What does that mean? How on earth can you expect people to deal with you if you call them names like ‘contemptible little weasel’? You rather sound as if it was a liquid lunch if you don’t mind my saying…

    If you want more illuminating reading try this..

  24. Julian Ruck says:

    To Mosby,

    Still visiting my blog looking for dirt are we Mosby?

    Get a life!


  25. Julian Ruck says:

    Or should I say stalking, Mosby?

  26. Ed Parke says:

    Backstory! ‘Julian’, which ‘prep school’ did you attend?

  27. CrazyHorse says:

    DA raises a good point.

    ‘I assume you are referring to the £500 marketing grant Dinefwr received from Carmarthenshire County Council three years ago, when it went into publishing?’

    So you are admitting your publisher has received public funding, even though you state quite clearly on the tag line of your first few posts…

    He [Ruck] has never applied for a tax-payer handout, received a penny from the tax-payer for his novels and neither has his publisher

    So if you lied that your publisher has never applied for public funding when it has, how can we be sure about anything else you say?

  28. Mr Ruck, I do wonder why you can’t respond politely when I continue to be polite to you. And addressing this to me (presumably among others, hence your use of the plural) – it’s just silly:

    “To Campbell… You are all cowards of the lowest order, you attack wearing the armour of anonymity.”

  29. Julian Ruck says:

    To Campbell,

    For more than six months now, you have indulged in petty and irrelevant hair-splitting in an attempt to discredit me – all because you received the tax-payer coin for the Library of Wales series.

    Apart from this, not once, neither here nor on my blog, have you condemned the miserable Troll pack in their ridiculous and fantastic endeavours at smear and hate.

    As far as I am concerned, you are no better than the rest of them.

    You are unworthy of respect, full stop.


  30. Julian Ruck says:

    To Readers,

    So what have we got here?

    Two frustrated and desperate authors. Maybe five Trolls (some of whom use multiple identities), and one fantasy (?) writer who is upset at being exposed for riding on the Welsh literati tax-payer gravy-train.

    To date not one of these little charmers has come up with any corroborative or verifiable evidence to back up their scurrilous claims, not one has been able to challenge the facts I have put into the public domain and none of them have seriously addressed the issues my Letters raise.

    Debate? Don’t be silly, they are Trolls and merit nothing more that abject contempt.


  31. “…one fantasy (?) writer who is upset at being exposed for riding on the Welsh literati tax-payer gravy-train…”

    I expect that must be me, except that I have no reason to be upset, and I’m not. I myself volunteered the information on Mr Ruck’s blog (julianruck.wordpress.com). It has since been deleted, but by then I was familiar with Mr Ruck’s penchant for doing so, and I’d already copied our exchange. Here it is in full:

    January 19, 2013 at 2:02 PM
    (Mr Ruck) “Well Mr campbell, I am compelled to enquire as to why on earth you have such an interest, in the public purse shenanigans of a parochial Welsh literati? Unless it is as an English tax-payer, or perhaps a view that the State should fund all artistic expression?”

    (Me) ‘ I’m sorry I’ve had to put the reply in this part of the thread, but your original question doesn’t give me the facility to reply. The answer is simply that I wrote the introduction to the Library of Wales edition of an Arthur Machen collection – that’s my interest. But having come here in the first place, I don’t see where I shouldn’t comment where I think it’s appropriate.

    Forgive my clumsiness – I meant to type “But having come here in the first place, I don’t see why I shouldn’t comment where I think it’s appropriate.” ‘

  32. stevemosby says:

    Julian –

    “Or should I say stalking, Mosby?”

    Because I visited your website? That is the nature of the internet, you know. So that would be a ludicrous accusation at the best of times. Never mind the fact that, on the previous page of this comment thread, you personally invited me to visit your blog to read your talk…

  33. Julian Ruck says:

    Well, Mr Campbell if you’re not upset, why the hell have you been following me around for God knows how long, unless of course you are a fan of my novels?

  34. uglyfatbloke says:

    This is the general story of government-aided art I’m afraid, but at the same time excellent sound and lighting companies are being put out of business through big grants to install equipment in venues, even though the equipment is invariably over-priced, inappropriate and very often operated by people who would never be able tom keep a job at a production company but do have the right pals and relatives in the right places…or have a posh accent, which often just as good.

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