Cutting it?

Maurice Davies, 17.04.2012
Tell us how the cuts are affecting your museum
Still trying to clear my inbox after Easter, I’ve been catching up on the past few weeks’ local press cuttings. They paint a mixed picture of triumph and crisis.

There’s a surprising number of openings of new or refurbished museums: Sea City in Southampton, Titanic in Belfast, museums in Peterborough, Maidstone, Much Wenlock and Northampton.

There’s Housesteads Roman Fort, Woodbridge Tide Mill, Sywell Aviation Museum - and not forgetting the new Museum of British Surfing and the MAD Museum in Stratford upon Avon.

And local papers report planned new museums or refurbishments for Amesbury, Woodstock, Keswick, Harborough, Coventry Transport Museum, Newmarket, Lincolnshire and York.

As you might expect, local media find it easier to report good news than bad – it’s not common for a museum to press release reduced opening hours, cuts to the events programme or redundancies.

A few cuts do make it into print – so far this month there are reports of closures of Seiont II Maritime Museum and Malton Museum and stories about the impact of cuts at Luton, Harlow, Aston Manor Road Transport Museum and Etruria Industrial Museum.

The Museums Association wants people to get the full picture and understand the scale of the cuts, as well as all the shiny new openings. To give us solid information, we’re undertaking a new survey of the impact of cuts to museums.

Last year, our cuts survey gave us the ammunition to make the case for museums in the national media and make sure that ministers couldn’t avoid the hard truth of what was happening.

It also got us on BBC television talking about how museums can diversify their income.

Now, the data in that survey is out of date and journalists won’t use it, although we’re still helping them understand what’s happening on the ground in museums - like this piece published in last week’s Economist.

Up to date information will help us speak up for museums with authority. It’ll give you information that will help you compare your situation to others and help you in your advocacy.

This year we’re also looking at how museums are adapting and hope to get a flavour of how practice is changing and what museums are prioritising over the next year or so. That will feed in to our Museums 2020 project to develop a bold vision for the impact of museums.

For the survey to have the maximum impact we need to hear from as many museums as possible. Please complete it now, however severe or gentle your cuts.

Even if you haven’t been cut, don’t be shy – we want to get a balanced picture and we want to hear about your priorities.

The survey closes on 30 April, so don’t delay. Let us know about your cuts right now.

To complete the survey, please click here