Culture minister Ed Vaizey. Image (c) DCMS

MA asks Vaizey to confirm support on key issues

Geraldine Kendall, 22.09.2010

Culture minister called on to clarify department position ahead of upcoming appearance at MA conference

The MA is calling on culture minister Ed Vaizey to clarify the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) position on three crucial issues ahead of his keynote speech at this year’s MA conference in Manchester.

Head of policy and communication Maurice Davies said the MA would like Vaizey to acknowledge the “huge success” of the Renaissance programme, which has seen visitor numbers to regional museums rise by well over 40% since it began in 2002.

In a dossier of evidence submitted to the DCMS select committee yesterday, the MA warned of the dangers of axing Renaissance funding. A recent survey of regional museum hubs found that collections, access and outreach work would suffer if funding were cut by 25%.

The MA is also calling on the culture minister to confirm that his department will ensure the continuation of key functions carried out by the recently abolished Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).

The select committee dossier outlined several vital MLA responsibilities, including accreditation, funding for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, the MLA/V&A purchase fund, and support for organisations such as the Collections Trust.

Davies said that any restructure must also take into account the fact that many MLA functions impact museums in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and should continue to do so in future to avoid wasteful duplication.

The MA dossier also warned that the proposed merger of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and English Heritage would be problematic because the two organisations currently have very different areas of responsibility. Davies said: “We are particularly concerned about the extra bureaucracy this would cause.”

Davies added: “There are lots of changes coming up which have the potential to benefit museums and their audiences. However the devil is often in the detail and it is obviously critical that valuable functions are not lost and that things get simpler and not more complex.”

Culture minister Ed Vaizey will be a keynote speaker at this year’s MA Conference, which runs 4-6 October in Manchester.

To find out more and book your place, click here