Every year, we conduct a survey of the country’s museums to find out what is on the sector’s mind (see news analysis). This year’s survey, completed by 468 museums, shows a sector that has spent years being buffeted by austerity and political uncertainty.
Unsurprisingly, local authority museums and former local authority trusts stand out as the areas of the sector that are struggling most with diminishing funding. Austerity is not yet over, and there will be more difficult days ahead for many museums – particularly with the damaging impact of Brexit lurking in the background, still unresolved.
But there are things that we can do as a sector to improve the situation. The government is preparing its spending review, which will set out its plans for the next three years. This is always a hugely important time, as it’s an opportunity to influence how much public funding is available to the Department for Digital, Culture Media & Sport, Arts Council England and the devolved administrations.
The Museums Association is working hard to advocate for museums in this debate. We’re talking to government ministers and civil servants about the vital role that museums play in society, and using the work we have done on our Museums Change Lives campaign and Empowering Collections report to set out a strategic vision for the future of the sector.
But everyone needs to play their part, so please write to your MP and make the case for public investment in the sector.
Alistair Brown is the policy officer at the Museums Association