THE SENEDD has heard that the National Library of Wales and museums across the country are facing an ‘existential crisis’ due to budget cuts.

Concerns were raised during a debate over the potential loss of free entry to museums in Wales and job cuts at the National Library in Aberystwyth and in other museums.

Heledd Fychan MS criticised job losses during the debate on a cross-party motion, co-submitted by Tom Giffard and Jane Dodds, to keep entry free.

She said culture institutions are all going through redundancy programmes, meaning vital skills are already being lost, with no time to put succession plans in place.

“And worst of all, the Welsh Government is helping to fund these redundancies,” she said.

Raising concerns about the long-term impact of cuts, she pointed to an article by Andrew Green, a former chief librarian, entitled ‘Why is the Welsh Government at war with culture?’.

Mr Green wrote that people should be “deeply worried by a government whose members can’t manage to grasp the critical importance of maintaining and improving state support”.

Plaid Cymru’s shadow culture minister also quoted Pedr ap Llwyd, who retired as the National Library’s chief executive on Friday, as warning of a “gap in the political will”.

She said: “Our culture and our heritage matter. They aren't something nice to have when times are good; they are a vital part of our nation.”

Tom Giffard, the Conservatives’ shadow minister, accused Welsh ministers of “hiding” behind the arm’s-length body principle to avoid responsibility for decisions instead made around the cabinet table.

Sioned Williams, the Plaid Cymru MS for South Wales West, said Amgueddfa Cymru and the National Library of Wales are facing an existential crisis, adding: “The warning is clear. If we don't support the calls in the motion before us, the price for the future of our nation will be one that we cannot afford to pay.”

Dawn Bowden, the deputy minister for arts, recognised the challenges maintaining ageing buildings, adding the National Library has received £2m to address the most pressing maintenance concerns.

Criticising Prof Llwyd’s “somewhat disingenuous” comments about a lack of political will, Ms Bowden said he had ample opportunity to put his concerns to her but did not.

She stressed that she does not want Amgueddfa Cymru to charge for entry but, in a crisis, every avenue of income generation at its disposal must be explored.

The motion was agreed 27-16.