V&A denies scaling back outreach work

Three diversity and social inclusion roles made redundant
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Rebecca Atkinson
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The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London has denied scaling back its outreach activities after making redundant three posts focused on diversity and social inclusion work.

The roles, which were all part time, fell across two departments – learning and public affairs. They include the position of head of equality and diversity.  

A spokeswoman for the V&A said it wanted to make community programmes a core part of mainstream programming rather than being handled by a separate team.

She added: “There is no change to our ambition to ensure that all our programming is attractive to, and attended by, as wide a range of audiences as possible. We are certainly not scaling back our outreach initiatives. Diversity is firmly embedded within all our work and the museum runs many activities designed to welcome under-represented audiences and promote social inclusion.”

According to the V&A’s annual report for 2011-12, 18% of visits were from black, Asian and minority ethnic audiences. This figure has more than doubled since 2001-02.



There are concerns that outreach and diversity work is one of the areas of museum practice hit hardest by funding cuts.

Mark Taylor, director of the Museums Association (MA), said: "Museums have made great strides in diversity and equality in the last 20 years, the challenge for the next few years is not to lose the momentum.

"Those museums that have embedded the principles in all aspects of their work will be able to do this the best. I fear for those museum that have not."

The MA's 2012 cuts survey found that 33% of respondents would be doing less outreach in the coming year – the biggest cutback after research into collections (37%).

Last year the Department for Culture, Media and Sport dropped six performance indicators that related to social inclusion, learning and outreach work – prompting concerns that some museums could use this as “an excuse to cut back on social inclusiveness”. 

As part of cuts proposed by Newcastle City Council, the Laing Art Gallery and the Discovery Museum are looking at reducing outreach and education work, alongside opening hours. Elsewhere, English Heritage made its entire outreach department redundant as a result of its government grant being cut by 32% in the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review.



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