Federation response to Light Springs Through the Dark
Jan 26, 2017
In December 2016 Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, issued a detailed statement of his vision for culture in Wales (downloadable here).
The Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales has written to the Minister in response:
The Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales welcome the strong opening statements that you make in your recent document Light Springs through the Dark: A vision for culture in Wales: of valuing culture, heritage and the arts for their central role in society; for their contribution to empowerment, to the economy, to wellbeing; that Welsh Government sees culture also as a priority for its own sake, and that there is a need for public funding to sustain it.
The Federation has long advocated for the work that museums do and the positive differences they make to individuals’ and communities’ lives. We see this document along with the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act as providing real opportunities for the work that museums do, day in, day out, without fanfare and often within very limited resources, to be truly recognised and valued for the positive impacts they make. Indeed our next conference will have the Future Generations Act as its theme, with inspiring case studies from across Wales showcased.
While we understand the benefit in citing case studies of Welsh Government funded and larger institutions, events and organisations within the document, and are very pleased to see Amgueddfa Cymru’s excellent work cited, we are disappointed that there is little mention of local museums and their crucial role in collecting, preserving and making accessible local heritage, as well as their contribution to community cohesion and place-making, well-being, education and the economy.
Local museums are particularly at risk from the effects of Westminster’s austerity savings allocated to Welsh and local authority governments. We are sure you can understand the great deal of anxiety amongst our membership with regards to continued cuts to local authority budgets and the impacts that any reduction in EU funding following Brexit will cause. We therefore appreciated your recognition that while there may be a temptation to stop funding culture in today’s economic climate, that it would be a “serious mistake” to see such expenditure as a ‘luxury’. We would therefore have expected that the Expert Review into Local Museum Provision in Wales be referenced in the summary, and we are disappointed that the progression of its recommendations does not feature in the programme commitments.
We are also concerned that the establishment of Historic Wales is cited as a commitment, despite a steering group being established to look into the options. We understood that there would be a period of consultation and further research before determining that this would be the preferred route forward.
The Federation looks forward to working with you, Welsh Government, our diverse communities and creative partners to progress the programme commitments outlined. We thank you for sending such a strong vision and recognition of the importance of culture, heritage and the arts in Welsh life. We look forward to discussing this further at our meeting in February.