We need to be vocal about our funding needs

Heledd Fychan, Issue 117/10, p17, 02.10.2017
While resiliency is key when faced with cuts, it is also important to challenge these changes
Speaking to a former council leader recently, I challenged the individual on their funding decisions, specifically the significant cuts endured by a museum within their authority.

Rather than being embarrassed, the person was proud of what the museum had achieved since cuts had been enforced, saying it had been given a new lease of life.

The reality on the ground for that museum is very different, and difficult decisions have had to be made. Remaining staff work ridiculous hours to be as innovative as before, while also increasing income-generation activities and communicating their achievements.

Their advocacy work has been effective, as those achievements are now being heard. In fact, the MA’s Museums Change Lives campaign as a whole has been effective for the sector. More politicians are engaging in our work, and praising the sector for its wide-ranging evidence-based impact.

But is there a risk that those who survived the cuts have focused too much on communicating the impact of the sector, rather than fighting cuts? Or has the advocacy work stopped the cuts from being even worse?

Funding uncertainty means we need to consider how the sector advocates going forward. Being resilient has helped some survive, but we need to be clear this is not sustainable.

Alongside communicating Museums Change Lives, we also need to communicate the sector’s funding needs. Only then will we be able to sustain the level of impact now expected by politicians and the public.

Heledd Fychan is the corporate affairs and advocacy manager for Amgueddfa Cymru (National Museum Wales) and a Museums Association (MA) board member