John Whittingdale appointed culture secretary - Museums Association

John Whittingdale appointed culture secretary

Former chairman of Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee promoted to cabinet
Patrick Steel
John Whittingdale, the Conservative MP for Maldon, was today appointed secretary of state for culture, media and sport.

Whittingdale has overall responsibility for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which includes museums and galleries in England.

He was briefly the shadow culture secretary from 2004-05 and has been the chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee since 2005.

A report by the cross-party committee last year called for “greater urgency” in addressing the imbalance in Arts Council England’s funding for London and the English regions, and sought an increased national museum presence outside London.

The report also highlighted the lack of a comprehensive arts policy in England, calling for a “clear overall policy statement by the government” that might guide the arts council’s strategic direction.

Since 2010, the DCMS’s departmental budget has been cut by over £140m while a 50% cut to its administration costs has seen nearly half of the department’s staff made redundant.

Before the election the Conservative Party said it would keep national museums and galleries free to enter and give them greater financial autonomy to use their budgets as they see fit.

Arts funding would be used to support projects in the north of England, including the creation of a new India gallery for Manchester Museum in partnership with the British Museum.

The government is also seeking to make further cuts, with some predicting the DCMS would be cut by as much as 23%, but prior to the election the Conservative Party would not confirm the level of budget reductions it would make.

No announcement has yet been made regarding the post of culture minister, which was occupied by Ed Vaizey in the previous administration.

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