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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A failure of transparency

A few weeks ago the Housing Regeneration and Heritage Minister made a statement in the Assembly chamber entitled 'Making a Difference: The Role of Museums, Archives and Libraries in Tackling Child Poverty’ in which he announced an additional £150,000 to be spent before the end of March across his heritage portfolio. Naturally, I asked him how this money will be spent and how the outcomes will be monitored but did not get an answer so I tabled a written question to the same effect. This is the answer I had today:

Changing Cultures / Newid Pethe will deliver a rich programme of cultural and heritage activities aimed at encouraging children and young people in Wales to enjoy, learn and be inspired by our history, heritage and culture. Organisations funded by the Heritage Portfolio will be encouraged to review their approach to working with children and young people disadvantaged by circumstance or location.

Activities co-ordinated by Cadw include a Heritage Graffiti Project with youth offenders in addition to visits to hillfort, Roman fort and shipwreck sites with school children. Free entry to all Cadw sites open during the winter season will encourage broader audiences from 1 March.

CyMAL: Museums, Archives and Libraries Wales division is co-ordinating a varied activities programme in our national and local libraries, museums and archives.

Public libraries and the National Library of Wales are working closely with the Welsh Books Council to arrange all Wales activities around World Book Day on 7 March to encourage more children to enjoy reading. Libraries are working with a theatre company, storytellers, authors and an illustrator. Kids in Museums is supporting young people in the production of a bilingual DVD on making museums more relevant to children. Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales will conduct research on participation in cultural activities by children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Glamorgan Archives will conduct workshops with school children to explore the impact of poverty on children through artistic interpretation. A key strand of all Changing Cultures activities will be ensure that schoolchildren are able to take part in activities through meeting transport needs.

The evaluation of activities and outcomes will be based on the Inspiring Learning for All framework which identifies learning outcomes in five areas. Outcomes will also feed into the Programme for Government monitoring process.

All very laudable but there isnt a single figure in there that gives me even a clue as to how much money has been allocated to each activity. Does he know?

I have now had to table another question and wait two weeks for a further answer. There is no guarantee that that answer will be any more enlightening. This is the level of transparency and accountability that we have to endure day-in, day-out with the Welsh Government. It does not say much for Welsh democracy.
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