Tax relief extended to permanent exhibitions - Museums Association

Tax relief extended to permanent exhibitions

Museums to benefit from measure announced in today's Autumn Statement
Museums and galleries across the UK will benefit from a tax relief for permanent exhibitions announced in today’s Autumn Statement.

The tax relief, which comes into effect from April 2017, will allow museums to make savings on the creative and set-up costs of their exhibitions.

The new measure broadens the scope of the tax relief that was introduced in the 2016 budget earlier this year, which only applied to temporary and touring exhibitions.

The chancellor Philip Hammond wrote in today’s Autumn Statement that the tax relief had been broadened to make it “accessible to a wider range of institutions across the country”.

The rates of relief will be set at 25% for touring exhibitions and 20% for non-touring exhibitions, and will be capped at £500,000 of qualifying expenditure per exhibition.

Relief is available on a maximum of 80% of qualifying expenditure, meaning museums and galleries will be able to claim up to £80,000 relief for a non-touring exhibition and £100,000 if the exhibition is toured.

The decision to extend the relief comes after extensive dialogue with the museum sector, including a response submitted by the Museums Association (MA) last month calling for a more equitable scheme.

The MA’s policy officer, Alistair Brown, said: “At the MA, we were concerned that the original proposal for tax relief on temporary exhibitions would only benefit the type of exhibition that the national and larger regional museums can put on.

“As we have seen in recent months, the museums in greatest need of extra public support are those with much smaller budgets.

“We’ve held regular meetings with the Treasury and with other sector bodies to argue the case for a more equitable scheme, and we are delighted with this outcome.”

The MA’s director Sharon Heal said: “We welcome the extension of the proposed museums and galleries tax relief to include permanent exhibitions.

"This means that a wider range of museums and galleries across the UK will be eligible for the relief and we would encourage and support museums to take advantage of this important new tax break."

The National Museum Directors' Council estimates that the extension will bring additional tax relief of around £3.5m per year to the museum sector, although tax specialists Deloitte warned that the £500,000 expenditure cap would adversely affect larger institutions.

The exhibition tax relief is expected to save the museum and gallery sector £30m a year from 2018 until it comes up for renewal in 2022. 

Today’s Autumn Statement also revealed a number of planned investments in cultural institutions. The chancellor allocated £7.6m for urgent repairs at the Grade I listed country house, Wentworth Woodhouse, in Yorkshire, subject to approval of a sustainable business case.

The government will also support a new creative media centre in Plymouth, the development of the new Studio 144 arts complex in Southampton, and a Royal Society of the Arts pilot to promote cultural education in schools.

In addition, the Treasury has announced the latest recipients of funding raised from Libor banking fines. A number of military museums will benefit from this year’s pot of £102m, including the Aberdeen Museums Development Trust, the Army Museums Ogilby Trust, Biggin Hill Memorial Museum and the Royal Air Force Museum.

The Art Fund's Stephen Deuchar welcomed the announcements in the Autumn Statement, but said: "It is the relatively modest financial challenge of keeping our museums' operational costs properly covered where we now need the government’s leadership and support, especially those funded by local authorities such as the threatened New Art Gallery Walsall."


MA's response to consultation on tax relief for museums and galleries (word)

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