The Rt Hon Vaughan Gething MS,

First Minister of Wales

Welsh Government

22 April 2024

Dear First Minister,

I am writing on behalf of the grouping of Library & Information Services from all the higher education institutions in Wales within the WHELF group to express deep concern regarding the proposed budget cuts laid out in the 2024/25 draft budget for key cultural institutions in Wales, including the National Library of Wales, Amgueddfa Cymru Museum Wales, and the Royal Commission.

While we understand the Welsh Government’s commitment to protecting essential services during this challenging financial climate, we believe access to art, heritage and culture is also essential – and these reductions, ranging from 10% to 22.3%, will have a devastating impact on Wales’ ability to protect, preserve and promote our rich history and heritage.

Taking into account inflation and previous year cuts, the reductions translate to a much steeper decline in real-term funding for this sector over time, potentially leading to job losses, reduced public access to collections, limitations on cultural and educational services, and a sharp decrease in activities which support the people of Wales.

Furthermore, this decision contradicts the long term economic benefits of supporting cultural institutions. Studies have shown that every £1 invested in this sector generates £5 in economic growth.

Access to culture is not just about preserving the past; it embeds our shared Welsh identity and sense of Nationhood, it provides opportunities, fosters confidence, and contributes so much to the well-being of the people of Wales. These proposed cuts risk jeopardising this crucial role at a time where those things are very much in need, and which we see as integral to delivering on the ambitions set out by Welsh Government in the Well-being of Future Generations Act and within the Anti-Racist Wales Action Plan

We urge you to reflect on the role that these institutions play in supporting our generation and those who will follow us, alongside our nation’s reputation as these are globally respected institutions, and in that light, reconsider the budgets allocated to cultural institutions.

On behalf of the Library & Information Service members of the Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum (WHELF):

Aberystwyth University, Bangor University, Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, the Open University in Wales, the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Swansea University, University of South Wales, University of Wales Trinity St David, Wrexham University

Yours sincerely

Mark Hughes, Chair, WHELF Chair & Head of Libraries at Cardiff Metropolitan University