Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries


  1.1  Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries (formerly known as the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council) is a new strategic agency which works with museums, libraries and archives across the UK. It replaced the Museums & Galleries Commission and the Library Information Commission on 3 April 2000.


  2.1  The strategic objectives of Resource, as laid down in a consultation document issued in January 2000, are:

    —  to act as an authoritative advocate and champion for the museums, archives and libraries sector ("the sector");

    —  to act as a catalyst for change by promoting modernisation, encouraging excellence and stimulating imagination and lateral thinking;

    —  to provide strategic leadership, encourage cohesion and facilitate funding for the sector;

    —  to advise Resource's constituents on the conditions in which the different areas of the new sector can flourish;

    —  to identify the key strategic needs facing the sector and to advise on the priorities for action; and

    —  to develop new links and partnerships within and outside the sector.

  Resource will publish its manifesto in July 2000.


  3.1  In order to develop the strategic focus necessary to achieve these objectives, one of the first tasks is to identify which executive and advisory services previously undertaken by the Museums & Galleries Commission and the Library Information Commission should be retained, which should be transferred to other bodies, and which should be outsourced with Resource retaining strategic control. Activities which are under review include the administration of the registration scheme, security, and Government indemnity scheme casework.


  4.1  In order to determine how best to provide advice to the sector on cultural property issues, Resource has commissioned Jane Weeks to undertake a feasibility study. (Ms Weeks was acting as an advisor on cultural property issues to the Museums & Galleries Commission until 31 March 2000.) The study will examine the potential for the establishment of a single source of advice and information on cultural property issues such as spoliation, restitution, repatriation and the illicit trade in antiquities.

  4.2  A recommendation for such a service was made by the Museums & Galleries Commission in its submission to the Select Committee in March 2000 and is a key recommendation in the forthcoming report into the illicit trade in antiquities compiled for the Museums Association and ICOM UK by Dr Neil Brodie of the McDonald Institute. The creation of such a service was first mooted by Moira Simpson in 1997 in her report for the Museums Association on Museums and Repatriation.

  4.3  The feasibility study will consider the objectives of such a service, which might include:

    —  acting as a first point of contact for the sector on issues concerning the return of objects and the illicit trade in antiquities;

    —  communicating within the sector;

    —  assisting the sector in responding to repatriation requests; and

    —  advising the sector on how best to develop safeguards relating to acquisitions.

  4.4  During the course of the research, there will be widespread consultation with bodies such as the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the National Museum Directors Conference, the Museums Association, and the National Council on Archives, and with overseas bodies such as the American Indian Ritual Object Repatriation Foundation.

  4.5  The final report will cover the following areas:

    —  the form of the service;

    —  an outline of the main aims and functions;

    —  recommendations as to where it should be located;

    —  a timetable and budget; and

    —  an indication of potential sources of funding.

  4.6  The report will be submitted to the Chief Executive of Resource by 31 August 2000. If the recommendations are agreed, discussion will then take place on how best to implement them.

June 2000

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