What should the new culture secretary's priorities be?
Tom Boden, head of museums, Bath Preservation Trust
“The new culture secretary needs to understand and champion the vital role museums play in society. Museums bring people together, providing a place to reflect on shared cultural heritage; they are places where volunteers provide countless hours of dedication.
Small community run museums are especially vulnerable to local government spending cuts and should not be forgotten in the national debate. They often achieve outstanding outcomes on incredibly limited resources.
Other priorities should be to: use public funding streams to promote greater collaboration and resource sharing between museums; set up a fund to support a programme of paid internships in museums; and fight our corner within government to safeguard future funding for museums including Renaissance.”
Chrissy Partheni, head of museum partnerships, National Museums Liverpool
“Work closely with the Museums Association to find out about the achievements of different museums, key priorities and the immediate needs of the professionals. Support the regions particularly those most affected by the public cuts; people in the regions will need their museums more than ever.
Think outside the box, advocate for museums and culture to other departments and strive for partnerships that can maximise resources and impacts. Protect free access to learning resources and events for schools. Be less London-centric, find out about examples of best practice from the regions. Advance equality in the museum sector, explore how best to diversify the workforce at all levels, not just entry. Rethink the role of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, aim for strong leadership.”
Kevin Fewster, director, Royal Museums Greenwich
“As Royal Museums Greenwich was part of the Olympic site many journalists decreed the best venue of the London Olympics, my recent focus has strongly been on matters Olympic and Paralympic. Our new secretary of state is uniquely placed to ensure the delivery of the legacy that we’ve all hoped for.
Tourists come to Britain, London in particular, to enjoy and be inspired by our culture and heritage. The Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site was chosen as an Olympic venue largely for these reasons and received massive media exposure through this wonderful mix of sport, heritage and culture.
I hope the minister can champion our sector and help Britain win the biggest gold medal of all – maximising the long term benefits that the Olympics and Paralympics have presented.”
Jo McGuire, service development manager, Wirral Council
“There is a real danger in the current climate that the value of museums in particular, and culture more widely, is dismissed as an indulgence. Strong cultural provision attracts investment, stimulates local economies, improves learning and promotes well-being. But it only does this if it is free.
Short-sighted cuts in cultural provision, or a retrograde step of charging for entry, will seriously undermine this country’s ability to grow out of recession. Therefore, our new culture secretary needs to really understand the wider economic and social benefits delivered by the sector and become a strong and convincing voice around the cabinet table for on-going investment in museums and the wider cultural offer for the benefit of the country, its people and places.”