The National Museum of Scotland

Scottish government cuts budget for cultural collections by 4.5%

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 21.12.2016
But funding for NMS and non-nationals will stay at the same level
The Scottish government is proposing to cut funding for the country’s national collections by 4.5% in its budget for 2017-18.

A draft budget released last week showed that the government is planning to reduce its spending on cultural collections from £80.6m this year to £77m in 2017-18.

It is the second year in a row that the cultural collections budget has faced cuts, having fallen from a total of £85.9m in 2015-16.

John Leighton, the director-general of the National Galleries of Scotland, said: “It remains a challenge to balance budgets against a background of record numbers of visitors to our galleries as well as the increasing costs of protecting and caring for our world-class collections."

However, Leighton said he welcomed the government’s continued support for the principle of free admission, and its recognition of the importance of the national collections to culture, wellbeing and economic growth.

In spite of the cut, National Museums Scotland's (NMS) core funding will stay at the same level as it was for 2016/17.

A spokeswoman from NMS said: "We are now in the process of developing our detailed budgets for the year ahead.
 
“The financial climate remains challenging, but we aim to deal with this by continuing to keep a tight rein on our costs and expanding and enhancing our earned income.”

The government’s investment plans for 2017-18 include contributions to a number of museum-related capital projects, such as further development of the Scottish National Gallery, the ongoing construction of the V&A Museum of Design in Dundee, and additional work at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow.

Funding for Museums Galleries Scotland will also remain the same as 2016-17, with the national development body to receive £2.35m, plus an additional £200,000 for capital projects.

The organisation’s chief executive Joanne Orr welcomed the news, saying: “Museums Galleries Scotland has worked hard to raise awareness of the wider value of the sector’s work and the protection of our budget in a difficult time endorses the contribution [museums] make.”  

However, non-national museums are likely to come under pressure at local level, with local government funding due to fall by 3.2% next year.

Meanwhile, Creative Scotland will receive a relatively small cut of £100,000, with its budget dropping from £32.212m to £32.112m.

A number of heritage-related agencies will receive a boost. The budget for Historic Environment Scotland, which funds the repair of historic buildings and the regeneration of town centres, is set to rise from £81.4m to £84.8m. The organisation is working to develop a national infrastructure investment plan for Scotland’s built heritage.

The government is also giving a significant boost to the National Records of Scotland, which will see its budget increase from £31.3m to £39.8m.

And funding for major events will more than double next year, from £12.6m to £30.3m. This will cover a new national strategy aimed at developing and promoting the events industry, and will also fund a range of events taking place in the near future, including the 2018 Year of Young People, a yearlong programme of cultural and educational events and activities co-designed by young people, as well as Scotland’s annual Winter Festivals programme.

The culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “This is a strong budget for our culture sector, particularly set against the backdrop of the UK government’s failure to bring an end to austerity and a real terms cut to Scotland’s day-to-day budget."

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