Funding cuts hitting museums with vital role to play

Nicola Sullivan, 05.11.2015
MA president David Fleming talks about the challenges facing the sector
Severe cuts in public funding have come at a time when museums have never been more “popular and impactful”, said David Fleming, the president of the Museums Association (MA).

Speaking during today’s keynote at the MA’s Annual Conference and Exhibition, taking place in Birmingham, Fleming said that over the last three decades museums’ social and economic role had increased. But he said that politicians tended to focus on the economic impact of cultural institutions and that the social impact was “not as easily quantified.”

Fleming also said that while the consequences of cuts to public funding might not be visible in London, they were being felt in number of areas outside the capital. He cited the closure of the Snibston Discovery Museum in Coalville, Leicestershire as an example of this.

“There has never been a greater need for the MA to second guess and respond to the ever growing demands that have been made on us [the sector],” he said. “Record breaking membership levels and attendance at this conference are reassuring indicators that the MA is doing its job, but of course we can always be better.”

In order to tackle the challenges museums need to work differently, do more to illustrate their public value and develop the skills of their workforce, he added. But he also warned that museums needed to “stop suggesting they can see off reductions in public funding by becoming more enterprising.”