Glasgow finds itself in the spotlight - Museums Association

Glasgow finds itself in the spotlight

The Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme will feature 800 events, but concern has been expressed that there is too much focus on the performing arts. Gareth Harris reports
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Gareth Harris
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The spotlight falls on Glasgow’s culture sector and museums in the next few months, with more than 800 events planned for the programme linked to the Commonwealth Games.

Glasgow Life, the trust that runs cultural venues for the city council, is playing a key role in developing exhibitions and events. The programme includes the Generation initiative, a celebration of contemporary art co-organised with National Galleries of Scotland, in which more than 50 venues are participating.

The Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme has received £13.2m in funding.

The Creative Scotland National Lottery distribution fund has contributed £9.7m, while the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee has provided £3.5m. Glasgow Life is providing support in terms of staff resources and the realignment of existing resources, according to a spokesman for the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme.

However, Glasgow Life, in line with other local authorities, faces a spending squeeze following the publication of Scotland’s budget bill for 2014-15 in January.

According to the Scotsman newspaper, Holyrood funding for Scotland’s 32 councils will be reduced by £624m over the next two years.

Glasgow Life’s grant from Glasgow City Council for 2014-15 has been cut by £1.9m.

“Our total savings target for the same year will be £4m, which takes into account other inflationary pressures including pay inflation and utilities,” says a Glasgow Life spokesman.

Glasgow Life faces other challenges. The trust has been without a head of museums since last autumn, when Ellen McAdam was appointed director of Birmingham Museums Trust.

The museums are currently overseen by Glasgow Life’s director of culture, Jill Miller.

A spokesman for the trust says a new head of museums is due to be appointed.

Ambitious plans

Despite the cuts, no Glasgow Life-run buildings have been closed and the city has ambitious plans to redisplay the Burrell Collection and refurbish Kelvin Hall, which will be used as a museum collections access and study facility under a new partnership with the Hunterian Museum.

Meanwhile, a recent exhibition of works by Jack Vettriano attracted record numbers to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (see box).

Some museum professionals have, however, raised concerns about the legacy of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme.

David Gaimster, director of the University of Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum, says: “On the ground, it has not generally felt as though Scotland’s museums are key participants in the Culture 2014 programme, with its particular emphasis on performing and contemporary arts.

“However, it is encouraging that Museums Galleries Scotland has been able to support the contribution of Scottish museums and galleries to the festival through the Generation project.”

Glasgow Museums visitor numbers

Kelvingrove
2012 1,037,594
2013 1,044,067

Gallery of Modern Art
2012 595,977
2013 572,152

Burrell Collection
2012 184,730
2013 193,472

Top three shows (paid) at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

132,502 Jack Vettriano: A Retrospective (2013-14)

123,289 The Glasgow Boys 1880-1900 (2010)

103,000 Van Gogh (1948)



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