A display at the Great North Museum, Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, Newcastle

Watson: museums can work through cuts

Patrick Steel, 03.12.2012
TWAM director discusses funding cuts at the MA's north east members' meeting
The north east faces a “huge challenge with public funding”, Iain Watson, director of Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums (TWAM) told the Museums Association’s north east members' meeting last week.

Cuts are not a short-term problem, he said, but history had shown that museums could work through it.

Watson pointed to an economic impact study by BOP consulting, which showed TWAM’s contribution to the economy in the north east was £43m a year – equal to about £20m value added.

The meeting came a week after Newcastle City Council proposed £90m of spending cuts, which would see the Great North Museum lose 100% and other TWAM services lose 50% of their council funding.

Watson told delegates that TWAM is in discussion with its five partner authorities about their individual funding allocations but would not know its exact position until after further budget statements.

TWAM is also talking to its local authority partners and Arts Council England about the future of the Great North Museum, and is looking at ways of diversifying funding for the museum.

During the event, Watson welcomed a recent report into philanthropy outside London. But he referred to the difficulties of attracting philanthropic donations outside the capital: “There are no hedge fund managers in my street.”