Annual report and business plan

The Museums Association's finances and activities
The Museums Association (MA) is an organisation with a broad and diverse membership.

2015-16 has been a great year for the MA, with a growing membership, the launch and implementation of the new Code of Ethics, the biggest conference in its history, and increasing membership engagement.

These are all signs of an organisation in good health.

However, we know the sector faces significant challenges, notably a seismic shift in funding.

We have already seen the impact of funding cuts and a range of measures to try to offset the effect of these cuts.

Can being more entrepreneurial mitigate the impact of cuts in public funding? Maybe, but only to a degree. The fact is that public funding is needed in order to maintain a sector that is responsible to, and accountable to, the public (and this means all of the public, not just those with the means to pay admission fees).

Over the past decade museums have done much to improve how they are managed and led, and have become more entrepreneurial.

But museums are a proud and integral part of the public realm and we must do all we can to prevent the withdrawal of government and local authorities from funding museums in all four nations.

That means we must speak up to defend the public funding upon which almost all of us, to a greater or lesser degree, rely. The voices of the vulnerable must not be drowned out by the voices of those who don’t wish to challenge authority.

The MA has set up a Museums Taskforce to review regional museums and we hope that it will come up with some solutions to the challenges that museums face across the UK.

I hope the Taskforce will inform the Museums Review in England and debate and discussion about the future of museums in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Personally, I have argued for many years that there should be a strategy for museums in England, following the example set by governments in Scotland and Wales.

Brexit will have huge implications for museums and the cultural sector.

There is nervousness about the loss of opportunities and funding for museums. But there is also a big role for museums to play in promoting diverse community life and opposing the divisiveness that the EU Referendum has stimulated.

Next year a revised version of the MA’s hugely influential Museums Change Lives will address the changing nature of debates about the social impact of museums.

In England there is new blood at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and a challenge for the English museum sector is to ensure that new Secretary of State is well-briefed on the impact and potential of museums.

We know that ministers are interested in identifying those areas of activity that might attract funding from government pockets that are far deeper than those of DCMS, for example.

Museums changing lives is of importance to all politicians, not just those with a cultural brief.

In light of cutbacks in public funding, there has been impassioned debate about sponsorship of museums, where we should source our funding, and what strings might be attached.

Identifying ethical practice for museums has never been more urgent – ethical behaviour underpins everything we do and we will continue to champion the new Code of Ethics for museums.

2017 will bring fresh challenges for the museum sector; the MA will play its role, advocating for museums, leading professional development and campaigning for improved social impact. I hope you can join us on this journey.

David Fleming
President, Museums Association

Latest annual report and business plan

Annual Report 2015-16

Business Plan 2017-20

Previous annual reports

Annual Report 2014-15

Annual Report 2013-14

Annual Report 2012-13

Annual Report 2011-12

Annual Report 2010-11

Annual Report 2009-10

Annual Report 2008-09

Annual Report 2007-08

Annual Report 2006-07

Annual Report 2005-06

Annual Report 2004-05

Annual Report 2003-04

Annual Report 2002-03