Sharon Heal, MA director, and Ed Vaizey, former culture minister

MA makes the case for UK museums at Westminster

Patrick Steel, 23.05.2018
Further events planned for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
The Museums Association (MA), in partnership with the National Museum Directors Council, organised a day of advocacy at Westminster this week, making the case for public funding for UK museums to politicians from all four nations.

The day was attended by a number of MPs including England's culture minister Michael Ellis, shadow culture minister Kevin Brennan, Welsh MPs Chris Bryant and Glynn Davies, Scottish MPs Deidre Brock and Stephen Kerr, and Northern Irish MPs Gavin Robinson and Jim Shannon.

The event was hosted by former culture minister Ed Vaizey, who introduced Ian Blatchford, the chair of NMDC, and Maggie Appleton, the MA's president.

Appleton told the audience: "At a time of unprecedented social change, museums are using their collections and spaces in incredibly creative ways to make positive impacts in our communities, both nationally, regionally and locally.

"With stresses on health and social care, museums are making a profound impression on people's quality of life across the UK. As an example, a woman whose husband is taking part in the Scottish Football Museum's dementia programme, said: 'I drop off a sad old man with dementia and I bring home my husband.' It's powerful stuff.

"Our museums are recognised as world leaders, but to allow them to achieve their full potential we need support. The fantastic entrepreneurial work, fundraising and philanthropy that we do will never take away the importance of public investment in museums to allow us make this impact and make a statement that government does value our contribution. Public support attracts private investment, it's a win-win."

Alistair Brown, the MA's policy officer, said: “Museums at Westminster was a fantastic event which enabled museum leaders from across the UK to make the case for our sector directly to MPs and lords, and helped to kick start the conversation about museum funding in the build-up to the comprehensive spending review.

“We hope that it spurs colleagues from across the museum sector to advocate for their museums with MPs, assembly members, MSPs, mayors, councillors and other stakeholders.”

The MA is working with the Welsh Museums Federation to support a similar advocacy event in the Senedd on 25 October, and with colleagues in Scotland and Northern Ireland, to make the best possible case for the value of museums for all communities.