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Senedd to debate ‘increased danger’ to Wales’ national collections following budget cuts

20 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Rhyd-y-car Terrace, St Fagans. Originally built by Richard Crawshay around 1795 to provide housing for the workers in his iron-ore mine. Image: Lucas Migliorelli

A debate is set to take place in the Senedd today on the risks posed to Wales’ national collections as a result of the budget cuts to the culture sector

Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for Culture, Heledd Fychan MS, will today (20 March 2024) lead a debate in the Senedd on the increased danger to Wales’ collections and institutions as a result of the Labour Welsh Government’s budget cuts to the culture sector.

“Minimal” savings

Amgueddfa Cymru, the National Library of Wales and the Royal Commission are all facing a 10.5% cut to their budgets, resulting in significant job losses and threatening the future of the sector.

Despite the huge impact of these budget cuts on the sector, the Plaid Cymru MS has said that the savings for Welsh Government will be “minimal”.

With national collections already at risk, Heledd Fychan MS has said that the Labour Welsh Government can “no longer turn a blind eye” to the crisis facing the sector.

In the debate, Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for culture will yet again call on Deputy Minister for Arts, Sports and Culture to take urgent action to protect Wales’ national collections for future generations, and to work with the sector to “ensure its viability”.

National identity

Plaid Cymru spokesperson for Culture, Heledd Fychan MS said: “Wales’s national collections belong to everyone in Wales – they’re a part of our national identity.

“But for too long, the Labour Welsh Government have taken the culture, arts and heritage sectors for granted.

“Our national cultural and heritage institutions and organisations are on the brink. Amgueddfa Cymru, the National Library of Wales, the Royal Commission and other organisations all face a 10.5% cut in their revenue budgets and as a result, a significant reduction in staffing levels.

“With our national collections already in peril, these cuts will leave Wales and its people economically and culturally poorer – at a time where other countries are investing in a thriving cultural sector.

“The Labour Welsh Government can no longer turn a blind eye to the crisis facing these sectors. I urge them to commission a panel of experts to understand the danger to collections and put a plan in place to protect them; work with the sector to ensure its viability for the future; and ensure the free entry policy in museums is retained to continue to inspire people of all ages. We owe it to them, and to our future generations.”

National Library & Amgueddfa Cymru

Rhodri ap Dyfrig, head of marketing and audiences at the National Library of Wales previously said: “At the end of December 2023 the National Library of Wales was notified by the Welsh Government of a 10.5% reduction in its funding for the upcoming financial year.

“The Library has reviewed the operational expenditure and identified savings. The staff budget represents a substantial amount – approximately 75% – of the Library’s overall budget. The Library has therefore offered a Voluntary Severance Scheme to its staff to be implemented by March 31 2024.”

The National Library of Wales

A spokesperson for Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales, said: “We are currently undertaking a large change management programme. As we are still in the early stages of delivering this programme, we are not yet in a position to comment on any specific cost savings.

“The Welsh Government announced its 2024-2025 draft budget on December 19, presenting Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales with a financial cut of 10.5%. This is part of a programme of extensive cuts across all Welsh Government portfolios to address the significant shortfall in the Welsh Government budget.”

Long-lasting effect

The spokesperson continued: “This represents the largest funding cut in the museum’s history and will have a sizeable impact on Amgueddfa Cymru’s day-to-day operations. To ensure that the organisation can continue to operate within the revised budgets, Amgueddfa Cymru is having to consider different cost-saving options including changing operating arrangements, closing services, and potential job losses.

“This is an unsettling period for Amgueddfa Cymru, and the first priority is to provide care and support to our staff and volunteers over the coming weeks and months. Consultations with trade union colleagues will also be taking place throughout the process.

Amgueddfa Cymru chief executive Jane Richardson said: “We shouldn’t underestimate the long-lasting effect these cuts will have on Amgueddfa Cymru and the wider culture sector in Wales.

“We are already working within an extremely challenging financial environment post-Covid as we try to manage the ongoing risks to protecting, preserving, and promoting the national collection.”

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