The Minister was addressing the Museums Association UK conference in Edinburgh and told delegates that free entry to Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales sites, events such as Taking Over Museums Day, and projects like Just Bling?, are helping to stimulate an interest in the arts and heritage in young people and encouraging them to achieve in education thereby improving their life chances.
Taking Over Museums Day, which will be held on the 20th of this month, will see children and young people running museums, galleries and heritage sites, doing jobs that adults normally do. The day will be run by independent charity Kids in Museums, in partnership with the Welsh Government and the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, and will give young people the chance to be at the heart of a museum’s work. For some, it might be their first real interaction with their heritage and culture.
Just Bling? was a partnership project between National Museum Wales and the Welsh Government’s Communities First programme, which aimed to improve people’s lives in disadvantaged areas by using precious metal, treasure and decoration as a theme to encourage creativity, develop an interest in learning, raise achievement, and stimulate imagination
The Minister said:
“Long before becoming a Government Minister I was committed to the child poverty agenda; and I strongly campaigned for Wales to sign up to the eradication of child poverty. I believed in having a strong child poverty agenda in a devolved context exactly because I thought the agenda we are discussing today was vital to the life chances of children in Wales.
“Too often, the experience of children in constituencies like the one I represent, in the South Wales Valleys, was one of isolation from their own history. They were disconnected from their own story. And it wasn't just that the institutions in Cardiff were too far away from them, it wasn't just the impossibility of access and public transport; it was also the case that if they ever did get to a museum, their history was all too often absent from how Wales was presented.
“This was fundamentally wrong. The true history of Wales was being denied its true inheritors, both in terms of opportunity and access and through a narrow, culturally elite reinvention of what Wales was and where it came from.
“That was the challenge that faced us, and that is the challenge I am proud my team in Wales is meeting now, on a day to day basis. Breaking down barriers. Re-telling the story. Putting people back at the centre. We really are extending those opportunities for young people to connect with history; to engage with creativity; the opportunity to get that broader education so completely taken for granted by better off families
“The UK's community of Museums is a great force and resource of public good both culturally and educationally. Not just in terms of collections and objects - but in terms of expertise, interpretation and inspiration. There are, of course, many challenges that remain for us all but by working together we can harness that resource and ensure that, in the words of President Obama ‘the best is yet to come.”