Further funding cuts are counterintuitive says report

Nicola Sullivan, 20.10.2015
NMDC report highlights value of museums ahead of the comprehensive spending review
Further cuts to the funding of museums will destroy their ability to help the government fulfil its objectives in areas, such as health and education argues a report from the National Museum Directors’ Council (NMDC).  

The Museums Matter report said that more cuts to museums, which are only allocated a small amount of government spending, would have a minimal impact on the deficit reduction and represent a much greater loss in terms of public value.  

“If museums reduce the extent to which they curate, acquire, conserve and engage with the public, the collections and cumulative knowledge and the many positive impacts museums have will disappear,” the report states.

It also outlines how museums work in partnership with charities, care providers and community groups to help people with dementia and mental health problems. And it highlights the educational impact of museums.  

Museums have a greater direct economic impact than they had 20 years ago with major UK museums attracting over 71 million visitors last year, stated the report.

For example, the economic value delivered by the British Library is £5 for every £1 invested, while Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums has a net economic impact on the region of £8.5m per year.

Sharon Heal, the director of the Museums Association (MA), said: “It's crucial that we make the case for museums of all types before the spending review.

"Many museums are at the centre of their communities, they can enhance health and wellbeing and create better places to live and work. The MA is working hard to convince politicians and funders that museums matter and we are supporting our members to make that case at a local level.

"We need to use the facts in this report to make the case and we also need to connect with our communities to get them to speak out on our behalf. Museums can create and hold collective memory and are essential, not an add on that can be dismissed in difficult financial times.”

The NMDC has also provided a number of single page briefings covering topics such as health and wellbeing, communities and tourism for its members to use to strengthen their own advocacy work and lobbying activities.