Select committee inquiry to look at regional culture funding in England

Patrick Steel, 15.03.2016
MA calls for regional museums to make submissions
The Culture, Media and Sport Committee has launched an inquiry into funding for culture in England’s regions and sub-regions.

The Countries of Culture inquiry will focus on the impact on culture of the local authority settlement; new funding models for culture and use of lottery funding; cultural partnerships; skills, management and infrastructure; accessibility and engagement; and the value and impact of culture in the regions.

The select committee’s last inquiry in 2014, into the work of Arts Council England, found that there is an imbalance in arts funding in favour of London at the expense of taxpayers and lottery players in other parts of the country.

This year’s inquiry aims to build on that report and look beyond the work of the arts council.

“The UK has huge cultural and artistic riches in its regions and nations, including galleries, museums, music, theatre and festivals,” says Jesse Norman, the chair of the select committee. “This inquiry will look at how best to preserve and enhance those resources, especially in the face of continuing budget pressures; at the impact of festivals and events in cultural regeneration; at enhanced linkages between national and regional institutions; and at new ways in which culture and the arts can be used to develop and revitalise communities.”

The Museums Association’s (MA) Cuts Survey 2015 found that: “Local authority museums are particularly at risk and have experienced a greater decrease in total income from 2013-14 to 2014-15 than other types of museum. And the funding position of local authority museums is likely to worsen following the substantial cuts to the local government grant announced in the 2015 spending review.”

The MA will be giving evidence to the inquiry, and is calling for regional museums to make submissions to make sure the sector’s voice is heard.

“The MA welcomes the select committee inquiry into regional culture funding. Regional museums face a looming crisis with many under threat of closure,” says Sharon Heal, the MA’s director.

“If we are to prevent whole areas of the country becoming cultural cold spots there needs to be an urgent debate about how national and local government can work in partnership to ensure the continued provision of these vital services for current and future generations.

“The MA will be giving evidence to the inquiry and welcomes submissions from regional museums in England to ensure that our collective voice is heard.”

The deadline for submissions is 22 April.