The policy column

Laura Pye, Issue 117/03, 01.03.2017
Funding, relevance and collections
The Museums Taskforce, which was convened by the Museums Association (MA), has met three times and, following an initial discussion on the opportunities and challenges, we have focused on three main areas: funding, relevance and collections.

In February, we published our first statement on funding in England. The recommendations are aimed at national and local government, strategic agencies and funders. We will also be making recommendations for the sector and sector bodies, and intend to publish a list of options that museums might wish to explore, in terms of securing alternative funding. The taskforce is working on funding statements for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and will publish statements on relevance and collections in due course.

Our discussion on relevance has focused on how we can ensure the sector is confident enough to articulate its relevance in different arenas. In terms of collections, we will focus on loss of expertise, contemporary collecting, disposal and collections knowledge. We have also reviewed what research is available to support the sector, and will be reviewing the results of the MA museum survey at our next meeting.

One of the most interesting areas of the taskforce’s findings is the insight into the situation in all nations, and the work of the supporting sub-committee has been invaluable. We can learn a lot by reviewing how each nation has tackled the challenges that we all face to ensure the future sustainability of the sector.

Laura Pye is the head of culture at Bristol City Council and is the chair of the Museums Taskforce


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30.03.2017, 14:52
I just wondered if enough emphasis is being given to the different aspects of funding. Its not just about funding museums but ensuring that the funding provides equality of access to museums across all our communities. With no prospect of the available funding being increased we as a sector need to ensure the funds are distributed fairly. This will inevitably mean large reductions in geographic areas that have received much greater funding than others. The current disparity can run into millions of pounds per county . Fairness of course runs through museums and its ethics but will fairness overcome self interest. I suspect we will see arguments about lack of quality, experience in those parts of the country that have been starved of funding and the need to preserve what we have in the culturally rich areas. At the end of the day not changing this inequality is discriminatory , further alienates those we seek to engage with and widens the gap between rich and poor, The argument is already accepted but a token 4% shift in funding from London is just that a token.. Will the Museum Association argue that more money should be moved away from the South East Bubble to save what is left of regional museums not through pity but fairness?