Our response to the Levelling Up consultation
The Museums Association has submitted a response to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee enquiry on Reimagining where we live: cultural placemaking and the Levelling Up agenda.
In our response, we call on government for a more strategic approach to Levelling Up funding for culture that recognises the need for ongoing core revenue funding for museums, as well as the involvement and adequate funding of local government in each nation of the UK.
Our response says: “The introduction of Levelling Up funds comes after a decade of austerity that has substantially reduced the resources available to many museums across the UK – and especially those in our town and city centres which are largely funded via local authorities. The MA published research in October 2021 which showed that spending by local authorities on museums and galleries declined in real terms by 34% between 2009/10 and 2019/20 in England, and by similar levels in the devolved nations.
“Local authority funding for core museum services is the bedrock upon which other projects and initiatives are built. Typically, this funding covers the vital areas of keeping the lights on and the doors open, paying for staff, and collections care and display costs.
“Many of our members are very seriously concerned about the future viability of their organisations due to the ongoing cuts to core revenue funding. Several substantial city-centre museums which operate as independent trusts have told us that their council funding is forecast to end completely within the next few years, leaving them highly vulnerable to closure or very substantial cuts to their operations.
“Unfortunately, welcome as it is, capital or project-based funding alone is not going to solve this issue. We believe it is therefore vital that government considers a more strategic approach to Levelling Up funding for culture that recognises the need for ongoing core revenue funding for museums.
“Any solution to this issue will require the involvement and adequate funding of local government in each nation of the UK.”