MLA sets out to win more cash for Renaissance - Museums Association

Kick-start the new year with 15% off individual membership – use the code NEWYEAR15 at checkout to get your discount

MLA sets out to win more cash for Renaissance

The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) has launched its bid for £60m a year in the next comprehensive spending review (CSR) to fund the balance of the Renaissance in the Regions programme.
Patrick Steel
At an event at the House of Commons on the 1 November the MLA talked up the jobs that have been created, the educational value of the programme, and the new audiences that have been reached.

Chris Batt, the MLA's chief executive, told Museums Journal: 'We are optimistic about the CSR. We have a brilliant story to tell. The programme has been an incredible success and it is important to get that message out.'

But a Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) spokesman warned: 'It was an impressive event and the statistics were genuine and convincing, but if you go away feeling anything other than gloomy about the CSR then you are kidding yourself.

'All the indications from the Treasury are that it will be a tough round. No one should expect more than a standstill, or reduced budget unless the case is exceptional. The bonanza years are very much in the past.'

Nick Dodd, the chief executive of Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust, the lead partner in the phase two Yorkshire hub, said: 'The difference between the phase one and two hubs demonstrates how the money makes a difference. It is not an incremental difference; it is completely out of proportion. It would be very sad if we can't carry on this work.'

Asked whether he thought MLA was campaigning hard enough coming up to the CSR, he said: 'I think it is working extremely hard on it. MLA is the only game in town so we have to give it as much support as possible because, if we don't, then the money will go elsewhere.'

Alec Coles, the director of Tyne and Wear Museums, the lead partner in the phase one North East hub, said: 'There is no question this is going to be a difficult spending round, but all we can do is make the strongest possible case.

'Renaissance is probably the most effective example of any publicly funded cultural programme in terms of the number of people engaged, it's range and diversity.'

But if funding were reduced and Tyne and Wear's phase one status were to be lost, he said it would be 'an immensely retrograde step and would demonstrate a complete lack of strategy from whoever made that decision'. 'The principle has to be to get all hubs up to phase one.'

The MLA is focusing on being positive, said Batt. At this stage there is no plan B, although 'there are a number of options that we have considered'. In a worst-case scenario, the MLA would 'consult widely with hubs and others' over the next steps, he added.

The exact timetable for the CSR has yet to be confirmed, but it is thought that departmental allocations will be known by the summer recess, while non-departmental public bodies such as the MLA should know their allocations by this time next year.

Meanwhile, the London hub has yet to have its two-year business plan for 2006-08 approved by MLA's external panel. The hub will submit its plan for the third time to the panel at a meeting on the 7 December.

David Dewing, the director of the Geffrye Museum, which is a member of the hub, said: 'One of the reasons that the plan was rejected was because the degree to which skills are shared across the network needed to be articulated and made explicit rather than implicit. '

He added that the hub was confident that its plan would be approved by the panel.

Patrick Steel

Leave a comment

You must be signed in to post a comment.