Wales politics

National Museums Wales warns ministers over merger plan

National Museum Wales

National Museum Wales (NMW) has warned the Welsh Government to respect its independence, after ministers said parts of it could merge with those of historic monuments body Cadw.

The two bodies' commercial functions may combine under a new umbrella body called Historic Wales, ministers said.

NMW said it was "actively seeking clarification" of the plans, which had "significant implications".

Any potential changes should be "carefully considered", NMW said.

The creation of Historic Wales was a commitment in Labour's 2016 assembly election manifesto, written by the then culture minister Ken Skates.

Now promoted to economy secretary, he has established a working group to consider the best way to maximise the commercial potential of Wales' heritage bodies and organisations.

The committee will also examine whether to include other organisations, such as the National Library of Wales.

Chaired by National Trust in Wales director Justin Albert, the committee will publish a business case by January 2017.

But, in a strongly worded statement on Wednesday, NMW said the announcement had "significant implications" and "any potential changes will need to be carefully considered before being widely consulted on with the public and the cultural sector in Wales and beyond".

Image copyright Gareth Jones
Image caption Landmarks such as Castell Coch near Cardiff have been used as film sets and wedding venues

"We are actively seeking clarification from the Welsh Government on its proposals for the creation of Historic Wales including its role and purpose.," it said.

"Any outcome needs to respect the independence, individual identity, integrity and core purpose of Amgueddfa Cymru [National Museum Wales] as a National Museum, a registered charity and limited company, operating under a Royal Charter."

The statement concluded: "As an emerging nation, Wales needs strong national institutions to develop a deeper understanding by its citizens of their identity and their place in the world, and to inspire the creativity of current and future generations.

"For over 100 years we have been caring for the nation's collections - a role which we will continue to fulfil on behalf of the people of Wales."

The heritage sector in Wales supports nearly 40,000 jobs and generates £749m - 2.6% of the Welsh economy - and is twice the size of the agricultural sector.

'Lack of engagement'

Plaid Cymru's culture spokesman Dai Lloyd called for an assembly debate on the plan for Historic Wales, claiming it threatened the museum's independence from government.

He said he was also concerned about "the lack of engagement and discussion" with the heritage sector on the matter.

"We are talking here of key national institutions and I would have expected far greater dialogue prior to any policy announcement," Dr Lloyd said.

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