A live music event at the National Museum of Scotland during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (c) Ruth Armstrong Photography

Scotland cuts cultural collections budget again

Jonathan Knott, 20.12.2017
Allocation has fallen 15% over the past three years
The Scottish government is to cut its cultural collections budget, which includes funding for Scotland’s national museums and galleries, by 5% next year.

The country’s draft budget for 2018-19, published last week, sets out plans to reduce cultural collections funding from £77m in 2017-18 to £73.4m in 2018-19.

This is the third year in a row that the allocation has been cut. The cultural collections budget was £85.9m in 2015-16, meaning that the planned reductions will amount to 15% over three years.

In a statement, the government said that its overall culture spend would go up almost 10% to £168m next year.

This amount includes more funding for Creative Scotland, such as £10m towards a new screen unit that will support the film, TV and video games industries, as well as “increased spending power and capital funding” for Historic Environment Scotland.

The government also said it will provide “additional funding” for national collections bodies to help them deliver Scotland’s new public sector pay policy, which will guarantee a minimum increase of 3% for public sector workers who earn £30,000 or less in 2018-19.

The government added that it would be protecting free entry to the National Galleries of Scotland, National Library of Scotland and National Museums Scotland.

Scotland’s overall culture, tourism and external affairs budget will increase by 6% to £344.3m.

A spokeswoman for National Museums Scotland said: “Our core funding for 2018-19 will stay the same as 2017-18, with the addition of an uplift to help with the considerable additional salary cost which comes as a consequence of the lifting of the public sector pay cap. The financial climate remains challenging, and we aim to deal with this by continuing to keep a tight rein on our costs and expanding and enhancing our earned income.”

A spokeswoman for Museums Galleries Scotland said that the current indication was that the organisation would be receiving a “flat-line budget”.

Fiona Hyslop, Scotland’s cabinet secretary for culture, tourism and external affairs said: “Against the backdrop of the UK government’s austerity regime, I am pleased that we were able to increase our support for Scotland’s culture sector to ensure it can continue to thrive.

“We have been working relentlessly since early this year to mitigate the impact of the reduction in UK lottery money. I am delighted we are able to step in and increase financial support for Creative Scotland and to provide £10m for the new screen unit.”

Hyslop added: “We greatly value Scotland’s culture sector and are committed to doing all we can to protect our world-class museums and Galleries. we will continue to work closely with our partners, stakeholders and national agencies to ensure Scottish museums can continue to thrive.

“Through this budget, we will provide the National Galleries of Scotland, National Library of Scotland and National Museums Scotland with additional funding to help them implement the new public sector pay policy and maintain free access to the permanent collections for the public.”

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