Welsh Gov U-turns on National Library of Wales cuts

National Library of Wales. Photo by csmramsde, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The Welsh Government has U-turned on cuts to the National Library of Wales.

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Dafydd Elis-Thomas has announced extra funding of £6.2 million after coming under fire for cuts to the Library’s budget.

The money is for the financial years 2020-21 and 2021-22 and will provide the Library with £2.25m and the Museum with £3.95m to safeguard jobs and deliver new strategic priorities.

The funding for the Library also includes £0.75m to accelerate the implementation of the findings of the recent Tailored Review.

Plaid Cymru has welcomed the news but criticised the Welsh Government for being “dragged kicking and screaming to this position”.

An online Senedd petition had gathered more than 14,000 signatures, which asked the Welsh Government to provide “fair funding” to “one of the world’s great libraries”, and says it is a “repository of the historic, artistic and intellectual treasures of Wales.”

The bestselling author Philip Pullman had said that the Library is “under threat” and described cuts to it by the Welsh Government as an act of “vandalism.”

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Dafydd Elis-Thomas said: “I am pleased to announce this funding which will safeguard and support two of our most important cultural institutions during this very challenging period.

“We have been in continuous contact with the Library and with Amgueddfa Cymru for quite some time, and are taking steps to protect jobs and to ensure the sustainability of these bodies, who are responsible for caring for our national collections on behalf of the people of Wales.

“Since the publication of the findings of the Tailored Review in November 2020, the Library has progressed significantly with the action plan to implement the Review recommendations – this momentum and a focus on what needs to be done has allowed us to develop the necessary implementation budget.”

‘Challenging’ 

Rebecca Evans MS, Minister of Finance and Trefnydd said: “I am pleased to confirm this support despite one of the most challenging budget settlements Wales has faced.

“This package will address immediate challenges and allows both Amgueddfa Cymru and the National Library the time and space to take forward new plans to ensure greater stability for the long term.

“This will include progress on sustainability, digital transformation and broader outreach and engagement activity with the communities of Wales.”

Roger Lewis, President, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales said: “We very much welcome this increased funding and support from the Welsh Government in these most difficult of times.

“The impact of COVID-19 has posed unprecedented challenges for many organisations and businesses in Wales, and Amgueddfa Cymru is no exception.

“This additional money places us in a stronger position to face these challenges, ensuring Amgueddfa Cymru can actively work to support the healing and rebuilding of the communities of Wales.

“We sincerely thank the Welsh Government for recognising and supporting the vital role of our cultural institutions in building a better Wales for everyone.”

Meri Huws, President, National Library of Wales, said: “I welcome the Welsh Government’s decision to provide this additional funding to the Library, which means that we will be able to address the main recommendations of the Tailored Review as well as put our exciting new Strategic Plan in action.”

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