Department for Culture, Media and Sport consultation on national lottery money for arts and film, sport and heritage from 2009

Response from the Museums Association, February 2006
1.0 Introduction

1.1 The Museums Association (MA) is an independent membership organisation representing museums and galleries in the UK and people who work for them. The Association has over 5,000 individual members and 600 institutional members.

These institutional members encompass around 1500 museums in the UK ranging from the largest government-funded national museums to small volunteer-run charitable trust museums. Formed in 1889, it is a charity, receiving no regular government funding, which seeks to inform, represent and develop museums and people who work for them in order that they may provide a better service to society and the public.

1.2 This response covers the questions relevant to heritage in the questionnaire.

2.0 Question 3a: Do you agree that lottery support has transformed the landscape of heritage in the UK?

2.1 We strongly agree. Lottery support has brought about a remarkable transformation in the heritage sector in general, and museums in particular. Lottery funding for capital projects has led to the greatest investment in the fabric of museums since the Victorian era. Funding for museum acquisitions has brought into public ownership parts of our shared heritage that would otherwise have been lost to private collections or to institutions overseas. And project funding has helped to ensure that more people have richer experiences of our museums and their collections.

Lottery funding has also been an important factor in enabling museums to deliver on a broader agenda. The advent of lottery funding coincided with growing awareness in the museum sector of the importance of reaching new audiences and of museums' under-developed potential as places of lifelong learning.

Through lottery investment museums have been able to extend their reach, improve the services they offer to their audiences and offer more inspiring learning opportunities.

Lottery funding has also helped museums in aspects of their work that strengthen communities. It has enabled people to get involved in their heritage through volunteering. It has helped museums undertake projects exploring identity and the historical forces that have shaped our communities.

2.3 It is important to stress that the need for lottery investment in the heritage sector is still significant. In the museum sector, substantial infrastructure improvements are still needed to bring all museums up to the standard of the best and to meet public expectations. And the need for funding for education and outreach projects, collections care and acquisitions is of course ongoing.

3.0 Question 3b: Do you support the consultation paper's suggestions for aspects of heritage that the lottery might support in future?

(Distinctive high streets, improved parks, learning and skills, young people and identity)

3.1 We neither support nor oppose these suggestions. We agree that the question of what constitutes our heritage should be constantly open to debate and review. It follows that the priorities for lottery support in the heritage sector will also change and evolve.

However, we believe that the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has the skills and expertise to take decisions of this kind about funding priorities, in consultation with the sector and the public. Indeed HLF is currently engaged in a consultation that addresses these very issues. Policy at this level of detail should not be directed by the government.

3.2 HLF is already investing in some if not all of the areas mentioned. Moreover, all of these aspects of heritage overlap with the remit of established parts of the heritage sector. Museums, for example, are ideally placed to work with young people in exploring issues of identity and belonging.

4.0 Question 5: Do you agree that all areas should have access to money within these good causes but that the Lottery should continue to address need where appropriate?

4.1 We assume that this question refers to the geographical spread of lottery funding and we agree. It is clearly important that people have access to museums and other heritage sites near to where they live. But it is also the case that heritage funding has to be driven to some extent by the distribution of heritage assets. Because our cultural heritage is the remains of past lives, that heritage is mostly concentrated in areas of higher population density.

4.2 We are aware that there is a perception that London has benefited disproportionately from lottery funding. We would question whether this is in fact the case, given the immense importance of London in historical terms and as a world city today.

We would urge lottery funders to continue to support projects in London on merit. Nevertheless, London-based museums and other heritage organisations with a national remit should be expected to demonstrate their commitment to achieving a genuinely national reach, through partnership and outreach.

5.0 Question 6: Since 1998, arts and film, heritage and sport have each had an equal share of 16.67% of Lottery money. Do you agree that should continue?

5.1 We strongly agree. We do not believe that the factors on which the decision to establish these equal shares was based have changed. Given that the overall sums available are likely to decline with the introduction of the Olympics Lottery, it is imperative that none of the good causes see their funding squeezed any further.

6.0 Question 7: We believe that Lottery money should not be allowed to become a substitute for funding that would normally fall to mainstream Government spending. However, the Lottery can still support things with recognised strong public support and Lottery grants can enhance mainstream public services. Do you agree?

6.1 We agree. Of course the Lottery should support things with strong public support. And of course lottery funding can enhance mainstream public services. However, it should do both those things without substituting for mainstream government spending.

6.2 We believe that the government must make explicit its commitment to additionality in lottery spending if public confidence in the Lottery is to be maintained.

7.0 Question 8: Decisions on which projects to fund should be made independently by Lottery distributors. But it is necessary for UK Government, and where appropriate, the devolved administrations in conjunction with the UK Government, to set an overall framework of control. This should be at a high level only. Do you agree?

7.1 We strongly agree. Again, we believe that the government must be able to demonstrate the independence of the lottery distributors if public confidence is to be maintained.

For more information or comment, please contact:

Helen Wilkinson, Policy Officer, Museums Association, 24 Calvin Street, London E1 6NW

(t) 020 7426 6950