30 Apr 2024

Open Letter to Lesley Griffiths MS

Open Letter from Icon CEO Emma Jhita to Lesley Griffiths MS regarding the significant cuts to Welsh heritage and culture confirmed within the Welsh Government’s budget for 2024/25.

Icon is concerned by the impact of the Welsh Government's budget reductions for the heritage and cultural sector. Conservators contribute to so many vital areas of public life through their work in museums and heritage sites. Icon believes that these cuts are already having a negative impact and we urge the Welsh government to reconsider their decision. Icon CEO Emma Jhita has written an open letter on behalf of Icon to Lesley Griffiths MS, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and Social Justice at the Welsh Government. We also thank Icon members in Wales and at Amgueddfa Cymru for their input. 

Read the open letter below:


Dear Lesley Griffiths MS,  

I am writing regarding the significant cuts to Welsh heritage and culture confirmed within the Welsh Government’s budget for 2024/25.  

The reduction in funding of 10.5% for Amgueddfa Cymru, the Arts Council of Wales and the National Library, alongside reduced financial support for local arts and culture is already having a significant impact on cultural institutions in Wales and their ability to retain staff. The loss of valuable staff expertise at Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales is a loss across Wales, with the conservation expertise provided by the institution reported as appreciated by museums across Wales in the recent Museum Spotlight Survey 2022 (Museum Spotlight Survey 2022 (gov.wales)). Retaining this expertise is vital to effectively caring for the national collections and ensuring they are as accessible as possible to the widest audiences.  

The Institute of Conservation (Icon) represents conservators across the UK and internationally, with close to 100 of our members living and working in Wales. As professionals, conservators are committed to using their specialist knowledge and expertise to ensure cultural heritage is physically preserved to enable display, research, and access. Through museums, heritage sites and cultural venues in Wales the work of conservators contributes to: 

  • A stronger economy for Wales,  
  • Progress towards net zero,  
  • Support today and in the future for young people,  
  • A celebration of shared heritage and increased sense of pride of place,
  • An increased level of optimism, ambition, and unity for the future.  

Whilst I am delighted, and very relieved, to hear that the National Museum in Cardiff will receive funding to ensure it remains open, funding to retain the expertise of staff within Amgueddfa Cymru, and across the cultural heritage sector, is vital to ensure proper care for the heritage of Wales and continued engagement of individuals and communities across Wales. Only with adequate and sustained investment can heritage and culture support delivery of the objectives above as set out in the First Minister’s inaugural address to the Museums Association.  

With its seven sites across the country, Amgueddfa Cymru’s collection represents the unique and diverse history of Wales and has a particularly important focus on the industries on which the modern-day economy was built. These sites which share the history of industry in Wales and connect audiences with the lives of the ordinary people who came before them, require specialist site-based conservation and particular expertise to care for the collections and engage audiences. Many of the skills required for industrial heritage conservation are considered ‘at risk’ and sustained investment is critical to ensuring this history, and the wonders of Wales’s heritage, spread across the Amgueddfa Cymru sites, can play an important role in the country’s future.      

Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales will be vital to delivery of the much-anticipated Cultural Strategy, with professional conservators central to enabling museums to deliver the value required. On behalf of Icon, and heritage and conservation professionals in Wales, I urge the Welsh Government to reconsider these funding cuts and ensure the level of support and investment required for the continued care of collections and access to heritage and culture for all in Wales can be provided.  


Yours sincerely, 

Emma Jhita 

CEO, The Institute of Conservation (Icon) 

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