Wales

Culture cuts 'smaller than England' - minister Ken Skates

The National Museum of Wales
Image caption The National Museum of Wales is facing a £1m budget cut

Planned cuts to its culture budget have been defended by the Welsh government.

Support for the Arts Council of Wales (ACW), National Museum Wales and the National Library will be cut by 4.7% in 2016/17.

The museum said the loss of £1m will "inevitably" have an impact and the ACW said it was "very concerned".

Deputy Culture Minister Ken Skates said cuts in Wales had been "a lot smaller" than those in England.

He was speaking during a visit to NoFit State Circus in Cardiff where he took part in a flying trapeze lesson.


Analysis by Huw Thomas, BBC Wales arts and media correspondent

The budget for Arts Council England will receive a cash increase over the next five years, but it follows cuts since 2010 that have been deeper than those in Wales.

The Welsh government argues that it has offered comparative protection to the arts in Wales, and that cuts in England have been more damaging.

But arts funding is diverse, and cuts to local authority budgets on both sides of the border have had a significant impact on companies that rely on their local councils for financial support.


The Welsh government has given NoFit State a £24,000 grant to enable them to stage their successful Bianco show in New York next year.

"There is always going to be a role for government to provide core funding for arts organisations," he said.

"The budget reduction this week is a lot smaller than what we've seen in England, where they've seen the loss of a number of arts organisations. That's not going to happen in Wales, and I'm determined to maintain that."

Mr Skates said additional project funding, like the grant given to NoFit State, allowed special events and tours to take place which helped to attract new visitors to Wales.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionKen Skates took to the trapeze to announce a grant for No Fit State Circus

ACW will meet on Friday to discuss its new budget, which will be cut by £1.5m.

In a statement ACW said it remained "very concerned about the ongoing pressure on Welsh government funding and hope that investment in future years will allow us to ensure that the arts in Wales continue to be the great success story that they currently are."

National Museum Wales said its new budget will be cut by £1m (4.7%), "which will inevitably have an impact on our services to the public".

The National Library, at Aberystwyth Ceredigion, said it "will need to secure additional funding from other sources" to mitigate against the cut.

ACW chairman Professor Dai Smith urged more people to consider private donations to support cultural organisations.

'Successful operation'

Earlier this week the philanthropist David Seligman donated a "significant sum" to Chapter arts centre in Cardiff.

Its theatre and studio spaces will now be renamed in his honour.

It comes as elsewhere in the city, the council is proposing to cut funding for the Artes Mundi prize and for BBC Cardiff Singer of the World as part of its budget squeeze.

Andy Eagle, chief executive of Chapter, said: "We're a very successful operation - with a cafe bar and restaurant which produces a lot of the income but we're reliant on ACW funding for interesting art projects.

"To make up the shortfall we need to find ways of generating money to keep an interesting programme.

Prof Smith said: "It's difficult in Wales to call upon money but when you have it, look at the Donald Gordon Theatre at the Wales Millennium Centre, the work Mathew Prichard has done and David Seligman and if we go back think of the Davies sisters' bequest to the National Museum."

"But even if those individuals did not exist, Wales would need the arts to be publicly funded and in that sense we the taxpayers are all philanthropists."

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