CARMARTHENSHIRE Council has more than 2,500 pieces of artwork in storage, according to new figures.
Now Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards is questioning whether the collections could help ease the pain of council cuts. Carmarthenshire is in the process of saving £30 million over three years.
Across Wales councils own more than 30,000 pieces of art — but 26,000 of those are in storage. All councils were asked the value of their collections, and Carmarthenshire said they did not know the value.
Swansea Council also has more than 10,000 art pieces in storage.
Senior cultural services manager Jane Davies said: “Carmarthenshire Museums is proud of its collection which is an important part of our history and heritage.
“Although we do not have the physical space to display the entire collection, all of it is available to view. Appointments can be made to view those pieces which are not currently on public display.
“A significant proportion of Carmarthenshire museums artwork is also available for the public to see as images on the Peoples Collection Wales.
“We do not currently have a combined record of what the collection is worth.”
Carmarthenshire MP Mr Edwards said at the very least the councils should get the collections fully valued.
He said: “I’m not suggesting for one minute the council should sell off what could be the ‘crown jewels’. This substantial art collection belongs to the people and it is important the residents have a say in any of their assets being sold.”
But the Plaid Cymru MP added: “With 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.
“We have seen parks, toilets and sports fields given away, and public services cut or out-sourced to save money. I want the council to at least explore the value of this collection which could potentially go some way to lessen the burden on county finances.”