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MA launches Museum Taskforce

Patrick Steel, 05.07.2016
UK-wide group to look at challenges for museums in short to medium term
The Museums Association (MA) is launching a Museum Taskforce, comprising museum leaders from across the UK, to look at the challenges and opportunities that museums face in the short to medium term.

The taskforce will focus on museums that are not in receipt of national funding as the principle source of their revenue in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It will examine the impact of Brexit on the museum sector and consider responses to the increasingly difficult financial situation that many museums in the UK face.

The taskforce will produce a state of the nation report on museums in the UK, and share potential routes to sustainability, looking at all possible options.

And it will use research and evidence to advocate on behalf of museums to funders, politicians, stakeholders and the public, providing a unique and independent voice to stand up for museums across the UK.

The MA’s director Sharon Heal said: “The taskforce comes at a crucial time for museums after the EU referendum and is in response to discussions we have had with members throughout the UK.

“We want the taskforce to be future-facing and solution-focussed and to create a sustainable vision for museums.

“We are aware that there are already discussions taking place around the future of museums in England as part of the DCMS-led review of museums; in Scotland as part of Museums Galleries Scotland’s development of its national museum strategy; and in Wales as part of the Museums Archives and Libraries division's development of its museum strategy and implementation of the Expert Review of Local Museums.

“Each of the four nations of the UK has had different experiences of the funding cuts and also differing responses, and part of the purpose of the taskforce is to share experiences, learning and strategic responses. It will work through sub-groups to ensure that English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish perspectives are taken into account and that useful comparisons can be made across all four nations.”

David Fleming, the MA’s president and the director of National Museums Liverpool, said: “At no time in history has there been more uncertainty for the museum sector.

“A combination of financial cuts, lack of strategy, the failure of many politicians to understand the importance of museums in our society and to our economy, and now Brexit, means that many of the UK’s museums are in a difficult position.

“The Museum Taskforce will report on the condition of the UK’s museums and will help ensure that the reality of the situation is brought home to public and politicians alike. The MA is committed to ensuring that the public is alerted to the clear and present danger.”

The taskforce will meet for the first time at the end of August.