English museums have received £33m EU funding since 2007

ACE research highlights sector concerns about Brexit
Jonathan Knott
English museums received £32.8m in European Union (EU) funding between 2007 and 2016, according to a study commissioned by Arts Council England (ACE) and published yesterday.

This sum included £13.2m through the European Regional Development Fund and £10.8m in research grants.

Of the categories of cultural and creative sector projects considered by the report, museums received the second largest amount of funding, behind the creative industries, which received £193.8m. Music received the third largest amount, with £32.2m.

The report by consultants Euclid found that 1385 projects “focused on or linked to the arts, museums and the creative industries” in England received a minimum of £345.3m in EU funding between 2007 and 2016.

In another ACE report focusing on the impact of the UK leaving the EU, 70% of museums said they were concerned about economic uncertainty after leaving the EU, and the potential for this to impact the funding environment.

Concerns about changes to legislation were also widespread: 57% of museums said they were concerned about potential changes the general European legislative framework, and 50% were concerned about changes mostly relevant to museums.

And the majority of responding museums were concerned about potential increases in bureaucracy for arrangements between UK and the EU, both regarding the movement of objects or equipment (51%), and the movement of people (also 51%).

Researchers ICM Unlimited also interviewed staff at Leeds Museums and Galleries, where they found concerns that the UK’s leave vote came across as “insular”. The cancellation of Leeds’ European Capital of Culture 2023 bid is highlighted as an example of the “overarching uncertainty” hanging over the museum service.

John Roles, the head of Leeds Museums and Galleries, told ICM: “At the moment there’s not enough detail to realistically plan anything. We currently don’t know whether [Brexit's] going to be a disaster or whether hardly anything will change at all.”

The ICM report said that one key area where certainty mattered was international loans. Yvonne Hardman, the head of collections and programmes at Leeds Museums and Galleries, said: “these things work really far in advance”.

ICM's survey also found that nine in 10 museums (89%) that loan to and from the EU said they generally make arrangements at least six months in advance.

But almost two thirds (64%) said the question of how far in advance their loans were agreed and transport arrangements confirmed for loans to and from the EU was “not applicable”.

ICM surveyed 992 arts and cultural organisations online, including 74 museums. It said that of all the types of organisations that responded, museums were “among the least negative on the likely impact of and potential concerns about Brexit”.

ACE said that the UK’s 16 museums sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport were unlikely to have taken part, meaning that the report's snapshot of the situation facing museums "doesn’t reflect the very largest organisations in the sector".

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