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Gething under fire after defending cuts that could lead to National Museum closure

15 Apr 2024 4 minute read
Vaughan Gething at his first press conference as First Minister, at Coleg Gwent’s campus in Ebbw Vale

Vaughan Gething has been criticised for defending funding cuts that could lead to the closure of the National Museum in Cardiff and the loss of at least 90 jobs.

Mr Gething made the comments at his first press conference since becoming First Minister, which was held at Coleg Gwent’s campus in Ebbw Vale on Monday.

During questioning from journalists, Mr Gething was asked about comments by Jane Richardson, the chief executive of Museum Wales, who warned that the National Museum Cardiff could close and at least 90 jobs could be lost following cuts.

He replied: “I think this neatly highlights when we’re talking about priorities and the reality of our budgets after more than a decade of austerity.

“When we set out in our budget our priorities, that we’d prioritise health and social care, and local government, that meant there were much more difficult choices to make across the range of the government.”

Public funding

Mr Gething said there were “difficult choices to make” across any area that had public funding.

“If the NHS really is our priority, and we’re going to invest in it, you can’t have that as a consequence free for every other area of public life,” he continued.

“We’ve set out that there would be reductions in some areas, and that’s painful and difficult. The museum is just one of those, there are many, many others.

“I don’t celebrate having to make those choices but I can’t be honest with the people of Wales about having priorities if we aren’t prepared to make choices around those.

“It really does highlight the need to have a different settlement at a UK level.”

National memory

Reacting to Mr Gething’s comments, Plaid Cymru warned that unless the Welsh Government take urgent action to get to grips with the crisis facing the culture sector, Wales is at risk of losing its national memory.

Highlighting cuts to the Welsh Government’s budget for 2024-25 which saw Amgueddfa Cymru, the National Library for Wales and the Royal Commission all face a 10.5% cut, Plaid Cymru spokesperson for Culture, Heledd Fychan said: “The Labour Welsh Government just don’t get culture.

“While they’re happy to pose for a picture outside one of Wales’ national museums or benefit from invites to exhibits, the reality is that 25 years of Labour rule has seen our culture and heritage institutions cut to the bone.

“As a result, we’re now seeing job losses, museums potentially closing, and national collections at risk. Despite ample warnings from the sector, the Labour Welsh Government choose to look the other way every single time and even defend their actions.”

Ms Fychan also accused Labour Leader Keir Starmer of hypocrisy after he promised delegates at the Labour Creative Conference last month that he would “‘end the war on culture” arguing that that culture is “not just nice to have” and is essential for economic growth.

She added: “The irony is that while Starmer pleads that a UK Labour Government will end the war on culture – their track record in Wales says the opposite.

“The new Cabinet Secretary for Culture must fully grasp the seriousness of the situation and take urgent action to safeguard our national collections, and the workforce that cares for them. A country so rich in its history, heritage and culture cannot risk losing its national memory.”

Tom Giffard MS, Shadow Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, described news of the cuts as “concerning not just for the individuals who will be impacted, but for all of us.”

He added: “Disproportionate funding cuts are putting the preservation of our shared heritage at risk, while the Labour Welsh Government prioritises money for more politicians.

“The Labour Welsh Government should scrap its vanity projects and use those funds to protect our cultural history.”

£4.5 million reduction

On Sunday, Ms Richardson told BBC Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement programme that Museum Wales is facing a £4.5 million reduction in its budget.

She said National Museum Cardiff – one of seven sites managed by the organisation – could be forced to close if more funding could not be secured.

Museum Wales has had a £3 million reduction in its grant but has a year-on-year deficit of £1.5 million, meaning a total deficit of £4.5 million by the end of March.

“Unless we’re able to secure more funding for that building that will have to close,” Ms Richardson told the BBC.

“When you have water coming through and failing electrics, there is a question hanging over the future of that building anyway.”

She said the building required “urgent critical work” to remain open to the public.


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Ap Kenneth
Ap Kenneth
1 month ago

Museums are not just culture, they are educational assets and help define who we are and Gething just does not get that. Plenty of people visit Cardiff to get a close up view of the Monets and other world renowned paintings so they also generate income for Wales via hospitality, as do the other sites. These assets are more than there apparent costs which in terms of the Welsh budget are tiny.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

First priority Hanes Cymru kicked into touch by Gething’s Welsh Gov, a bad start…

Valerie Matthews
Valerie Matthews
1 month ago

When here is an ever decreasing amount in the ‘Pot’ and everything is costing more and more, Choices have to be made. What ever is cut, someone will be unhappy about it, Leaving the EU, it has now been shown. is costing us dearly. The Welsh Government can only spend what it has been allocated . We are ALWAYS treated like the ‘poor relation’ by The Tories in London, How we overcome that, God only knows!

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
1 month ago

Westminster’s fault

Llyn
Llyn
1 month ago

True. The Tories bang on about using money allocated for so called Welsh Gov “vanity projects”, yet none of those they name are receiving funding this financial year so that’s a non-starter. While Plaid always attack any spending cuts without ever indicating from where they would like to see the money diverted or pledging to forgo one of their other spending demands in order to make up the finance required.

Gaynor
Gaynor
1 month ago

How about not spending 4mill quid on a farm for English hipsters

Llyn
Llyn
1 month ago
Reply to  Gaynor

That was spent a few years ago? Here’s the thing. You can’t spend the same money twice.

Geraint
Geraint
1 month ago
Reply to  Llyn

But you could sell it and recoup some or all the four million.

Llyn
Llyn
1 month ago
Reply to  Geraint

I have read that the repairs will cost approximately £90 million. So from what budget would you take the other £86 million?

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Llyn

Shouldn’t have been spent in the first place. Total misdirection of scarce funds.

Steve Thomas
Steve Thomas
1 month ago

Best deal for Cymru -the safety net of the union! Gething is a dual standard fool like Drakeford.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Thomas

The insurance policy that never was! The British Labour party in Wales are complicit with Tory austerity policies, only Welsh Independence will free future generations in Cymru from the Tory party.

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve
Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
1 month ago

Once again it is always Westminsters’ fault. Maybe I am mistaken but was it under Mr Gethings watch that £4 million of public money was spent buying Gilestone farm? The money is there but it is spent in the wrong places. As for Mr Gething himself, he comes across a automaton, lacking in any warmth or personality.

Frank
Frank
1 month ago

If the museum closes where will all the relics/artefacts/treasures go? I would be willing to wager that they will be going across the border, after all they have taken everything else. We’ll have nothing of value left!!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

They should be brought back to from whence they came…

There is another side to the ‘hide it in the basement’ reality that is often the case with Kleptrocratic institutions…

Oh! and the correct term for Sunak’s regime is ‘Thievocracy’…

Greece must have been a dodgy place back in the day…

Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
1 month ago

The Labour party in Wales has, via its education policies and Labour run local authorities’ consistently, over many years denied Welsh people access to Welsh history. How many counties in the world are considering closing its main national museum? Shame on the Labour party and their Tory masters.

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  Cwm Rhondda

Didn’t Neil Kinnock once claim that Wales never had a history of its own. Labour will never change its ways. When it comes to 2026 lets vote them out.

John
John
1 month ago

Vaughan ‘Tory boy’ Gething, showing his true blue colours

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Target; half a million names on a petition ?

Gaynor
Gaynor
1 month ago

So his mates and toadies in TUCCymru got him made FM , the he shafts the people who pay their dues to those same Unions. No surprises VG is a total philistine and ruthless with it.

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
1 month ago

Clearly Gething has no appreciation of the importance of the museum to the people of Wales. He should be challenging the tory cuts not mindlessly implementing them.
Has he ever mentioned or requested the return of the Crown Estates to Wales to boost our economy or the return of the £5billion lost to HS2 etc?

Rob
Rob
1 month ago

Whoever heard of a capital city that doesn’t have a museum? But then again whoever heard of a capital city that doesn’t have an airport? Both Labour and Conservatives couldn’t care less about our country. One claims to be standing up for Wales yet won’t do anything actually meaningful for Wales, rather blame the opponents, the other would be quite happy for Wales to be treated as though as if it was part of England.

If the museum has to bring back charging for admittence then so be it (even though its not ideal).

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 month ago

The sad, sad story of our national museum, which was known, until recent years as the National Museum of Wales until some Labour apparatchik decided the name could offend someone so it was changed to National Museum Wales, which brings a completely different connotation to the name, and the changing of the name of the Welsh Folk Museum to the ludicrous Museum of Welsh Life, (though it’s still Amgueddfa Werin Cymru in Cymraeg for some reason…). Always somewhat ambivalent to the whole notion of heritage in Wales which would, if presented properly, expose how Wales’ was historically raped and pillaged… Read more »

PeterC
PeterC
1 month ago

So his first real public mutterings (apart from his self promtion) are a cut to support for Welsh Culture. OK it’s in Cardiff so I am very unlikely to ever visit the museum, but it is important and the money, relatively, is chicken feed. Where is Gethings vision for Wales, what is his strategy for improving education, for providing high quality employment for all, for health and social services. What is his vision for industry, agriculture, tourism, providing housing. He does not address these, because he can’t as he has no vision, no strategy. So he will continue to fiddle… Read more »

Geraint
Geraint
1 month ago

His first press conference, should be a significant event, but can’t even be bothered to tidy up the chairs in the background.

Last edited 1 month ago by Geraint
hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

The Labour Welsh Government just don’t get culture.” says Plaid’S Heledd Fychan. She’s wrong there. Labour will import any old culture from beyond Wales and impose it on the native heritage in a long term scheme to obliterate our identity or what’s left of it. Austerity, or whatever it gets called these days, is a convenient cover for engaging in acts of downright hostility.

G. Williams
G. Williams
1 month ago

I’ve no love for the Tories (virtually an irrelevance as far as Wales is concerned). But surely the big problem in Wales is the Labour Party, exemplified by its election of a man such as Gething as its leader. I abhor Starmer and his mates just as much (and possibly more!) as Sunak, Johnson, etc. A plague on both their houses!

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