Picture provided by HM Treasury

DCMS budget cut will hit museums

Nicola Sullivan, 09.06.2015
Nationals prepare for further funding reductions
Government cost-cutting measures, designed to deliver savings of £4.5bn, will affect museums.

The Whitehall in-year budget review for 2015-16, announced by chancellor George Osborne last week, will see the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's (DCMS)  annual budget of £1.2bn cut by £30m. This will result in an in-year cut of 0.35% across the board for arms-length bodies like Arts Council England (ACE) and museums directly funded by the DCMS in 2015-16. Museums Journal undertstands that this means the total cut for the full year is 0.5%.

ACE has confirmed that the cut won’t affect 2015-16 grants going to National Portfolio Organisations and Major Partner Museums.

A DCMS statement said: "£25m of the savings will be delivered through underspends within the DCMS group by the end of the financial year.

"As part of this DCMS will deliver a 1% reduction in DCMS’s own core budget (£0.9m). DCMS will also deliver a 0.35% in year reduction to our arms-length bodies, including the arts council."

Museums Journal understands that some national museums are modelling for up to 30% cuts over the next three years.

“Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll continue to work with the arts and culture sector to make a very strong case about the value of public investment ahead of the spending review," an ACE spokeswoman said.

David Fleming, the president of the Museums Association (MA) and the director of National Museums Liverpool, said: “National museums have lost a lot of funding over the past few years and there is more money that is going to be lost. One of the inevitable consequences of budget cuts is that museums will have to adjust the way they work.”

Fleming said that some museums might be able to mitigate the impact of cuts by coming up with new ways to generate income, including philanthropy and charging for services. 

“But the degree to which the cuts can be mitigated will depend on the type of institution and where it is located," he said. "It won’t be the same everywhere and some museums will clearly find this harder to do than others."

The in-year cuts will also see the Department for Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) annual budget of almost £8bn reduced by £230m.

The Treasury confirmed that cuts to DCLG’s budget would not affect the budgets of local authorities – the main funders of regional museums – because they are assessed separately. A spokeswoman said that the central government grant settlement for local authorities for this financial year would be left untouched.

The full extent of further cuts to local authority budgets and the DCMS will become clear after the emergency budget on 8 July and future spending reviews.


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Alex Rowe
Director, OV GEM Ltd
11.06.2015, 09:57
Clearly such cuts are of little surprise - and have been a long time coming.But still the resistance from many Museums to fully embrace their digital, online offering, to supplement and increase their revenues, astounds me.

That said The Tank Museum (Bovington, Dorset) has recently published their online-virtual Tank Museum - a replica of their main on-site exhibition hall. This allows a global audience to access and navigate/'walk' around their main exhibition hall - on-line - and interrogate the exhibits and 'drill-down' into realms of data: hitherto unavailable.

Whilst currently open source the general and PR and longer term financial benefits are not lost on the Museum and this is but a (very important) building block for future out-reach/engagement of their ever expanding customer base. And in time the virtual Museum will be added to thus maintaining a dynamic + fresh on-line offering - and it is supposed, greater engagement with new AND existing visitors AND revenue generation.

Having been very closely connected to this project on behalf of the Tank Museum, I would urge others to embrace similar visions of generating revenue and creating compelling on-line environments - more than the rather hackneyed and passive'drop-down-list'.