Could county's artwork hold to the key to fewer council cuts, asks local MP

Carmarthenshire Member of Parliament Jonathan Edwards has questioned whether the county's vast artwork collection could help ease the pain of council cuts as information shows more than 2,500 pieces of art owned by the people of Carmarthenshire have not been valued.

Information released under the Freedom of Information Act to broadcaster ITV Cymru Wales shows that 95 per cent of the county's 2,500 pieces of art are kept in storage, with only 5 per cent – just 129 pieces - on display for more than 100 days last a year.

The release of information shows that artwork owned by Wales's largest local authority, Cardiff, to be valued at £36million. Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards says despite figures not being directly comparable, the fact that Carmarthenshire has more than 4 times the number of pieces of artwork than Cardiff should make council leaders sit up and think about the potential value of these assets.

Jonathan Edwards MP said:

“The people of Carmarthenshire have an art collection four times greater than Cardiff, whose valuation comes in at a whopping £36million. Of course it is impossible to directly compare raw figures, but such a large sum of money should be enough to make council leaders think carefully about the possibilities available. At the very least I believe this collection has to be valued.

“I’m not suggesting for one minute the council should sell off what could be the ‘crown jewels’ of Carmarthenshire. This substantial art collection belongs to the people and it is important the residents of the county have a say in any of their assets being sold.

“With 95 per cent of this artwork collecting dust in storage, we have to ask what county residents are getting out of the collection. We don’t know what types of artwork we own or how much they are worth.

“Could Carmarthenshire’s own Mona Lisa be hiding in the basement? Is there a hidden gem that could ignite a surge in tourism? Or is all we have a large collection of prints? It seems at the moment we just don’t know.

“We have seen parks, toilets and sports fields given away, and public services cut or out-sourced to save money. I want to council to at least explore the value of this collection which could potentially go some way to lessen the burden on county finances.”

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