London museums look at single plan - Museums Association

London museums look at single plan

Representatives from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), MLA London and the London hub, would like to see a single Renaissance plan for London for 2008-10, but they are not all in agreement about whether this can be implemented in time.
Patrick Steel
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Speaking at a meeting organised by the Museums Association (MA) last month to discuss the future direction of the London hub, Alison Hems, the Renaissance manager at the MLA, said: 'MLA is working on several funding streams, and all these streams work to different timescales, but one way to make sure that nothing falls down the gaps would be to have a single plan. We are not under any illusions how difficult it would be, but it is necessary for future sustainability.'

Sam Mullins, the director of London's Transport Museum, one of the four museums in the hub, agreed. He said: 'The regional agency has been endlessly reviewing and refocusing for the best part of my museum career. Now we have got a structure that is starting to work, we need a single Renaissance in the Regions plan to give coherence.'

But Graham Fisher, the chief executive of MLA London, said he was 'sceptical' that a joint plan could happen by 2008. 'There are too many things already committed to,' he said.

And Finbarr Whooley, the assistant director of the Horniman Museum, another hub member, said he had felt 'incredibly frustrated' by the difficulties that the London hub had experienced and was 'very conscious that time is against us'.

The need to join up thinking between the two national and regional agencies, the hub, and other London museums was the overriding issue at the meeting.

Miranda Poliakoff, the curator of the Museum of Fulham Palace, called for better communication in the future, saying that the perception for museums outside the hub was that there were 'haves and have-nots', while the delays in the latest business plan, which has twice been rejected by the MLA's assessment panel, gave the impression that it was shrouded in secrecy.

Fiona Talbott, the chairwoman of the London Museums Group and the head of museum and culture at the London Borough of Hackney, said that the consensus was that the relationship between London's regional agency and the hub had improved, but there was concern that there didn't seem to be common agreement on a single plan. 'We have taken on board the time concerns,' she said. 'But we think that this is crucial.'

Patrick Steel

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