Welsh government urged to ensure £59m rescue package reaches museums - Museums Association

Welsh government urged to ensure £59m rescue package reaches museums

MA submits evidence to Senedd as museums in Wales get the go-ahead to reopen
Profile image for Geraldine Kendall Adams
Geraldine Kendall Adams
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The Big Pit National Coal Museum
The Big Pit National Coal Museum
As museums and galleries in Wales prepare to reopen from 27 July, the Museums Association has urged the Welsh government to ensure a “strategic and equitable” distribution of the £59m cultural rescue package allocated to the nation by the UK government. 
In evidence submitted to the Senedd, the MA described the devastating impact that Covid-19 has had on the museum sector in Wales. It warned that museums would be operating at a loss for some time to come and said it was “vital that museums continue to receive support beyond the end of the lockdown”. 
It said: "We would ask Welsh government to work with Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales and the Federation of Museums and Galleries of Wales to ensure that funding is strategically and equitably deployed in Wales." 
The MA also urged more support for local museums. It called on the Welsh government to implement the recommendations of the Expert Review of Local Museums, particularly for direct government support and development of museums. It said three regional bodies should be established to share resources and support across local authority boundaries.
The MA said museums and heritage sites should play a prominent part in plans to encourage and develop domestic and international tourism in Wales after the crisis. 
So far, more than £158,000 in emergency funding has been awarded to museums during the crisis, with grants covering salary costs of non-furloughed staff, improvements to security and support to enable homeworking.
Meanwhile Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales (NMW) has given more details of its reopening plans after first minister Mark Drakeford announced last week that the sector could welcome visitors back from 27 July.
The institution is planning a phased approach across its seven sites from 4 August. The outdoor grounds of St Fagans National Museum of History will reopen four days a week from that date, although the museum’s historic houses, galleries and play areas will remain closed and visitors will need to pre-book free tickets.  
Three other sites - National Museum Cardiff, National Slate Museum and National Waterfront Museum - will reopen during the week starting 24 August. The National Wool Museum, Big Pit and National Roman Legion Museum will reopen from 1 September. 
A spokesman for NMW said: “We are working hard to ensure all national museums will be safe spaces for staff, volunteers and visitors when the time comes, with guidance on social distancing adhered to and visitor capacity managed. This includes a new booking system as although our museums will remain free, visitors must book their visit in advance.”
He added: “As a charity, Amgueddfa Cymru’s financial stability is also a priority. We are currently losing around £400,000 of income per month we are closed to the public and even when we re-open our museums, we will not be able to recover these losses fully on site due to the current guidelines on social distancing. We have therefore actively identified other options to protect the organisation, furloughing over 40% of our staff through the government’s Job Retention Scheme and working with our funders to identify other sources of income.
"This work will continue and all support is gratefully appreciated to help us continue to work with the communities of Wales and fulfil our role as Wales’ national museum.”
Links and downloads 
Evidence to the Senedd on the impact of Covid-19 (pdf)

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