Vaizey: government will not interfere in council decisions

Rebecca Atkinson, 15.12.2010
But councils should seek advice from ACE or the HLF before significant decisions, says culture minister
Ed Vaizey has said that decisions about funding local museums are up to local councils not the government.

Speaking at a Q&A conference at the Institute of Contemporary Arts organised by the Collections Trust, the culture minister said the department for culture would not impose policy on local authorities.

“I have a strong view that it is up to local authorities to make decisions, they are the ones that by and large fund local museums,” he said. “[The government shouldn’t] start to interfere - we respect the right of councils to make those decisions bearing in mind the financial circumstances they face.”

Vaizey added that any council considering cutting funding to museums, or even closing services, should seek advice from the Arts Council England or the Heritage Lottery Fund before making any significant decisions.

When pressed on whether the government would provide guidance to councils on the different public values of museums, Vaizey said much came down to local leadership and attitudes towards culture and heritage.

He added: “We’re not here to mandate or in the business of telling you that you’ve got to reach certain audiences or hit certain targets. It is a hands-off approach; I trust the leaders of our museums, nationally, regionally and locally. If you’re looking for a minister that tells you what to do, I’m not that minister.”