Covid-19 has brought into focus the impact of devolution on decision-making in the UK. Devolved governments have taken different approaches to lockdown and recovery, so museums in each of the four nations have been governed by different regulations. The financial support available to museums has also varied, though the furlough scheme has been open to all.
Culture has been devolved since the Welsh and Scottish parliaments, and the Northern Irish assembly, were set up. As a membership organisation, the Museums Association (MA) has adapted how it works in each nation to take account of the differences. Crucial to this was the establishment of MA reps in each nation, as well as the Nations Committee, a sub-committee of the board that monitors developments that affect the sector in each nation.
During the crisis, there have been regular meetings with civil servants and sector organisations in each nation. By comparing the support made available to museums, we have been able to influence government policy.
Going forward, the use of digital will allow greater dialogue between the MA and its members, especially those living in rural areas. With many museums facing an uncertain future, we need the MA more than ever to fight on our behalf.
Heledd Fychan is the head of policy and public affairs at Amgueddfa Cymru (National Museum Wales) and an MA board member