© The Courtauld Gallery

The future of regional museums

Nicola Sullivan, 25.03.2015
Debate at The Courtauld Institute of Art focused on the challenges ahead
The future of regional museums and the challenges created by ongoing budget cuts was debated by sector leaders at an event held at The Courtauld Institute of Art last week. 

Addressing the audience, Sharon Heal, the director of the Museums Association (MA), said that whatever the outcome of May’s election the significant challenge of coping with public sector cuts will remain. She emphasised that there’s a limit to how much can be squeezed out of museums’ shrinking workforces.  

Despite the challenges, Heal said she remains “optimistic about the future” of the museum sector.

Speaking after the event, she said: “Despite the impact of five years of cuts to cultural funding, museums are delivering huge public benefit and will continue to do so. But what we need is an honest discussion about increasing commercial revenue, partnership and collaboration that also takes a longer-term view.

“The MA is calling for a review of funding to take a more strategic and joined up approach. It’s time to have a grown up conversation.”  

Also speaking at the event, which was chaired by curator and author Giles Waterfield, were: Paul Greenhalgh, the director of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich; Ellen McAdam, the director of Birmingham Museums Trust; Sarah Philp, the head of programmes at The Art Fund; and Piotr Bienkowski, a museum consultant.

The MA and the National Museum Directors’ Council will be holding a hustings event on 30 April to shed light on the political parties’ approaches to culture.


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MA Member
27.03.2015, 12:15
Does anyone else think it is HILARIOUS that a debate about the future of regional museums took place in London? Sorry I fell of my chair - literally - laughing. Oh I know all the arguments - it’s easier for everyone (e.g. us regional folk) to get to London than anywhere else etc. etc. Nice that all the London attenders could get there as if to work, whilst anyone wanting to go from the regions would’ve had to have paid a fortune for an early train ticket and probably leave home at 6.00am. Such train prices would probably exclude interested ‘regional folk’ from attending, including me, as strap cashed regional museums would not have had the cash to pay for such no essential work. Oh the irony. You have to laugh otherwise you would go insane.