Eric Pickles is the secretary of state for communities and local government

Taylor slams Pickles' advice on leasing works of art for cash

Geraldine Kendall, 14.01.2013
Government tips for local councils to save money ahead of cuts
The Museums Association’s director Mark Taylor has criticised government advice urging local authorities to save money by leasing out works of art as “ill-thought out”.

The tip is one of 50 ideas for sensible savings in local authorities released last month by the secretary of state for communities and local government, Eric Pickles, who said councils should implement "every single one" of the tips.

The advice reads: “Lease works of art not on display: Many councils own art galleries and museums and have extensive collections which never see the light of day, but merely gather dust in storage.”

Taylor said: “Is this really the best the government can do? Ill-thought out and ill-informed ideas peddling tired old clichés about dusty stores. 

“Would Mr Pickles please tell us which stores he has seen lately, if he is aware what fantastic use is made of collections in store and where he thinks the market might be for leasing works of art from local authority museums?”

The advice came alongside Pickles’ announcement of a further cut of 2% to local authority budgets for 2014-15 in last year’s Autumn Statement, on top of the 28% cut being implemented over the course of the current spending review.

The additional cuts are likely to be passed on to many local and regional museums, with some more urban authorities estimating cuts as high as 8%.

Local authority funding for museums fell by £23m in 2011-12.


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MA Member
18.01.2013, 04:07
I agree that Pickles' suggestion is pathetic in the context of probably the worst post-war cuts to local government museum funding. I also accept that there are numerous practical difficulties in leasing out under used works of art. But let's not forget that the basic principle of getting pictures out of store on show in non-museum spaces is a good one. Better a picture should be on show somewhere - even in a company boardroom - than sit for years unseen by anyone except the occasional curator!
Edmund Southworth
MA Member
Director, Manx National Heritage
17.01.2013, 09:44
I read this list of 50 tips with interest to see if there was anything new. Predictably the great majority of sensible ideas were those which have been practiced by local authorities for years. I remember seeing most of them in the annual report of best practice published by the Audit Commission before that was abolished. There is a sprinkling of stuff driven by external pressure groups such as the Taxpayers Alliance (who are cited in references). Hardly an objective assessment.And of course there are some things that are simply "barking" as one would increasingly expect.Well done Mark for taking a robust stance in the face of this nonsense.
MA Member
16.01.2013, 22:50
One minute the Government is going on about localism; the next some wonks in Whitehall are coming up with fifty 'ideas' on how local government can save money. I thought the idea that the 'man in Whitehall' knows best had been proven wrong many years ago (probably by a Conservative think tank as well), so what's changed?!!