Protest outside Senedd as Welsh Government confirms museum cuts - Museums Association

Protest outside Senedd as Welsh Government confirms museum cuts

Amgueddfa Cymru reductions to go ahead but Cadw and Royal Commission get small reprieve
A protester outside the Senedd this week to demonstrate against cuts to museums and heritage Photo courtesy Prospect AC-NMW

Museum workers have been protesting outside the Senedd this week as the Welsh Government published its final budget for 2024/25, confirming significant cuts to Welsh culture and heritage.

Staff from Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales; the National Library of Wales; and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales were among those demonstrating against cuts that they warn will have a “catastrophic” impact on the Welsh culture and heritage sector.

The final budget made no changes to the planned 10.5% cuts to Amgueddfa Cymru, the Arts Council of Wales and the National Library, while the government’s proposed reduction in support for local culture and the arts will also remain the same.

However, there was a small reprieve for the heritage body Cadw and the Royal Commission, which will receive an additional £1.4m. Of this figure, £1.157m will go to Cadw and £243,000 will go to the Royal Commission.

This comes after the Senedd’s budget scrutiny committee heard that the two heritage organisations would cease to be functional without more investment. A recent review of Cadw recommended a “closer working relationship” between the two bodies, prompting speculation that they are likely to be merged.


The Welsh Government said: “We are providing £1.4m to recognise the impacts identified through scrutiny on Cadw and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. This increase should help mitigate some of the worst impacts on the provision of statutory functions in protecting and accessing our historic environment for future generations and support life-long learning, educational visits, volunteering and participation, monument interpretation, non-income generating events and support for third-sector organisations.”

The impact of the budget is already hitting the sector. A significant restructure is currently underway at Amgueddfa Cymru, where the 10.5%, or £3m, cut, combined with a £1.5m year-on-year deficit, means the institution must reduce its 2024/25 revenue budget by £4.5m by the end of March.

Museums Journal understands that nearly 100 roles will be made redundant in the restructure; redundancies are likely to affect specialist expertise, with 20% of posts in the natural sciences department being cut.

In a statement earlier this year, Amgueddfa Cymru chief executive, Jane Richardson, said: “This financial situation is challenging for everyone, and we recognise that we have to make difficult financial decisions.”

The deputy minister for culture has indicated that charges may be reintroduced at national museums in order to generate more income.

The budget has been widely condemned across the Welsh museum and heritage community. More than 4,200 people have signed a petition calling on the Welsh Government to increase rather than cut spending for the sector.


Jane Henderson, a professor of conservation at Cardiff University, wrote in a social media post: “Money spent on keeping museums free to access is money that creates safe spaces, a place to grow and an opportunity to forge an identity with those who are also excluded from other resources. It's not a luxury; it's where the government should invest, especially in the hardest times.”

Andrew Green, former national librarian at the National Library of Wales, said: “At the centre of government there’s a fatal lack of understanding and vision about the roles arts, culture, and heritage play in how we live and are seen outside Wales.”

Sharon Heal, the director of the Museums Association, said: “While we understand the pressure on Welsh Government finances, we are disappointed that these cuts to museums are set to go ahead.

"It will inevitably lead to a loss of expertise in collections, engagement and across a wide range of museum roles. It could also see the introduction of charges for museums, which in a cost of living crisis will inevitably mean that some sections of our communities are excluded.”


Edited to include more information about the restructure of Amgueddfa Cymru.

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