Museum Development Fund 'lacks strategic focus'

Rebecca Atkinson, Issue 110/07, p9, 01.07.2010
Report calls for delivery via national framework
The Museum Development Fund lacks “strategic focus” and should be delivered via a national framework, a review of museum development activity commissioned by the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) has concluded.

The review, which refers to support, advice and guidance given to museums in the regions outside MLA hubs, said this activity is delivering benefit to small, local authority, independent and voluntary museums.

It also recommended that museum development officers continue to work regionally and respond to local need. “A great strength of the current approach to museum development is that it is driven from the regions and it responds to regional or local need,” stated the report.

But it criticised the way the Museum Development Fund is allocated: “Operation of the Museum Development Fund has never been managed with sufficient strategic direction and, as such, regions have taken very different approaches to using this funding.”

“This has made aggregation of output against investment challenging, so an estimation of the success of Renaissance investment is impossible.”

It suggested redesignating the fund as a challenge fund under which regions can bid for financing to address particular needs.

Jenny Pitceathly, regional museums development manager at Renaissance North West, said the report’s recommendations are contradictory.

“Museum development activity can be strategic on a regional level,” she added.