Spending review: 5% cut for museums

Patrick Steel, 26.06.2013
MA warns of closures to come
In the spending round for 2015-16, announced today, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has received cuts to its resource budget of 7%, while national museums and Arts Council England (ACE) have taken cuts of 5%.

Chancellor George Osborne also announced a four year pilot scheme that will allow national museums and galleries in England to access their reserves, set their own pay structures and opt out of government procurement procedures. He also reiterated that free entry to national museums would continue.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is to receive a 10% cut to its resource budget.

And Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are to receive cuts of 2% to their block grants.

Museums Association (MA) director Mark Taylor said: "Predictably, local government is low down the food chain and we know that local government museums or independent museums supported by them are way down the local government food chain. The result can only be less museums, open less and providing less services.

"We are reaching the tipping point. Museums have high costs in maintaining public buildings and these cuts mean that they have little or no money to make collections available to the people that own them – the public.

"We risk having the world’s largest collection of white elephants up and down the country with museums either closed or unable to deliver adequate levels of service.

Art Fund director, Stephen Deuchar, said: "Our biggest worry is for local museums, many of whom will once again be saddled with a double whammy - cuts to their arts council grant and cuts to local authority support.

"And some local authorities are already preparing 100% cuts. But it doesn’t have to be like this. In Wakefield and Walthamstow, for example, where local councillors buy into the economic, educational and social importance of culture on the whole community, their museums shine like beacons."

But some in the sector expressed relief that the cuts are lower than expected.

ACE chairman, Peter Bazalgette, said: "DCMS and the culture sector have all done a good job in making the case for continued government investment in the arts and culture and highlighting the vital contribution which they are able to make to our quality of life and economy as a result. It’s encouraging to see that the Treasury and Chancellor have taken note.

"Today’s announcement shows more detail on the level of cuts facing local authorities which is cause for concern.

"Our next step will be to consider how best to run an investment strategy which will provide the maximum benefit not only to the sector but to the wider public. We will have more information to share in the coming weeks."

Today's announcement follows cuts in 2010 to DCMS' core budget from £1.4bn to £1.1bn and cuts of 50% to its administration, then a further £34m in cuts to its core budget in December last year.

For ACE, today's cuts follow cuts of 29.6% in 2011-14, and a 50% reduction in administration costs, leading to a restructure that will complete on 1 July, while last year's autumn statement saw ACE and the English nationals cut by a further 1% in 2013/14 and 2% in 2014/15.

Update
26.06.13, 2.40pm

This piece was updated to incude further details of the government's proposals.

26.06.2013, 3.48pm

ACE made another statement, so we updated Peter Bazalgette's quote.

26.06.2013

We included a statement from the Art Fund.

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