Wales politics

Historic Wales merger would tie museum 'by the legs'

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Media captionDavid Anderson says the museum's functions cannot be separated without 'savage surgery'

The head of National Museum Wales has warned that proposals to merge some of its work with parts of Cadw would tie it "by the legs".

Director general David Anderson told the assembly's culture committee he feared a loss of effectiveness.

The Welsh Government is looking to merge the commercial functions of both bodies under the banner Historic Wales.

Economy Secretary Ken Skates has said that he wants to see the institutions become more financially resilient.

Mr Anderson told AMs on Wednesday: "If we lose management control of key functions we are being tied by the legs at that point.

"It becomes very hard to be effective as an entity", he added.

He said while it may look as though only certain functions are being taken, commercial activity and core work are "deeply integrated with each other", citing the example of a recent dinosaur project.

Mr Anderson questioned how good it would be as a way of resolving financial problems - he said the organisation had had its budget cut by 33% in real terms since 2010.

Image caption National Museum Wales oversees several sites, including the National Museum in Cardiff

Mr Anderson said the process of drawing up the report which led to the proposals for Historic Wales was also "problematic".

A steering group has been set up by Mr Skates to look at the Historic Wales plan and examine whether to include other organisations, such as the National Library of Wales.

But Mr Anderson suggested that a decision was made already on the plans going ahead.

He said that "if the statement has been made that Historic Wales will be created and its said to be a manifesto commitment by government, and also that it will merge most of the commercial functions of the museum and Cadw, those look very much like decisions, as opposed to open reviewing of options".

Bethan Jenkins asked for clarification that Mr Anderson was not against the creation of another body "but that you would be concerned that it would between Cadw and taking away your commercial functions as opposed to discussing the whole mix of the heritage sector in Wales".

Mr Anderson said she was right.

The museum has warned the Welsh Government to respect its independence, while the proposals have attracted criticism from the UK museum sector.

Former Arts Council of Wales chairman Dai Smith also said he was alarmed by the plan.

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