Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure
This is a pivotal time for the heritage sector in Wales. The Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2016 has placed Wales at the forefront of the UK nations in the protection and management of the historic environment. However, with competing demands for limited resources and a need to promote Wales better than ever, it is crucial that we evaluate whether many of the structures underpinning the sector are fit for purpose and whether we could achieve more if we work in genuine partnership for the benefit of the sector as a whole.
I want to help build a heritage sector that is global in ambition and renowned internationally. To achieve this I want to see our national public institutions evolve, becoming more financially resilient and doing more to help us build a prosperous Wales. This is essential if these organisations are to continue to act as effective custodians of our outstanding historic collections and heritage and provide an outstanding visitor experience.
Earlier this year I was pleased to receive the PwC report Investing in the future to protect the past. It set out a number of different options for new structures and I am pleased to publish it in full on our website today. I also wish to place on record my thanks to Baroness Randerson for her role in considering the report for the Welsh Ministers, and for those organisations who engaged fully in its development.
The report confirmed my expectations: whilst the sector has many strengths, there are many opportunities to grow and expand. Ultimately the report sets the context for change. Change that is both urgent and necessary if our national institutions are to have the bright and sustainable future we all want for them.
In our manifesto we committed to the creation of Historic Wales, which would bring together many of the commercial functions of Cadw and Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales to help them secure new sources of income that can support that sustainable future. I appreciate that this is a significant undertaking and extremely complex and challenging. We will learn lessons from similar change in England and Scotland and use that evidence to build a business case for change that is appropriate and bespoke to Wales.
I want to stress to members that whilst I believe change is needed, the form and shape of Historic Wales is something I want to work with them on. This report is a good start, but I now want to discuss these options in more detail with organisations and partners right across Wales in order to secure as much common agreement as we can on the next steps.
I have asked Justin Albert, Director of the National Trust Wales, to independently chair the next phase of work, bringing together a steering group comprised of our national institutions alongside full senior trade union representation.
The steering group, under his guide, will draw upon the findings of the PwC report and agree which organisations and commercial functions should fall within the scope of Historic Wales. They will progress the business case for change and provide an implementation plan for the delivery of Historic Wales.
I have asked the group to report to me in January 2017 and am delighted to have published their terms and reference in full on our website.
I will keep members up to date on progress as we move forward.