Funding of the arts and heritage - Culture, Media and Sport Committee Contents

Written evidence submitted by Renaissance South East (arts 212)


  This document outlines a preliminary response from Renaissance South East to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee inquiry and call for evidence for The Funding of the Arts and Heritage.

  The key points include:

    —  Museums should be considered as part of the broader heritage sector in this inquiry.

    —  Uncertainty of future funding models can have a negative multiplying effect.

    —  Sector consolidation is likely to result in knowledge loss and reduced capacity to support local museums undertaking beneficial transformation.


  2.1 What impact recent, and future, spending cuts from central and local Government will have on the arts and heritage at a national and local level

  2.1.1 For the purpose of this response, heritage is considered to incorporate museums. Museums are an integral part of this cultural landscape providing for the cultural entitlement needs of local communities and supporting wider tourism agendas. The Renaissance programme to date has encouraged the museums sector to transform itself into a dynamic cultural asset that contributes significantly to economic and social priorities. The South East Museum context is illustrated in Appendix A.

  2.1.2 Proposed spending cuts at both a national and local level are likely to result in a reduction in the capacity of museums to sustain the quality of outreach, learning, museum support advice, training and collections care. The reductions are likely to result in staff consolidation and associated experience/ knowledge loss from the heritage sector.

  2.1.3 When considering wide spread spending cuts it is necessary to consider the multiplying impact it may have in the local economy and the capacity of the heritage sector to recover in the longer term. Appendix B outlines some of the recent achievements of Renaissance South East to highlight what the opportunity cost could be.

  2.1.4 The potential impact of a combination of reduced national and local investment in heritage may include:

    —  Local Authority Museum consolidation of capacity and an associated reduction in ancillary support to independent local museums.

    —  Consolidation of museum assets—requiring advice on ethical disposal of collections and closure of museums.

    —  Reduce capital budget expenditure on the maintenance and enhancement of facilities and buildings.

    —  Reduced support to museum accreditation and the sustainment of standards.

    —  Reduced capacity for museums to undertake quality outreach and community engagement programmes.

    —  Reduced capacity to undertake volunteer coordination and provide opportunities for volunteering in the heritage sector.

    —  Reduced opportunity to undertake good practice sharing and continual professional development as specific interest networks become unsupported and training budgets are reduced.

    —  Knowledge/experience lost from the sector as staff levels reduce.

  2.2 What arts organisations can do to work more closely together in order to reduce duplication of effort and to make economies of scale

  2.2.1 There is scope for a number of heritage organisations to collaborate more closely to ensure the efficient use of public funding to support the sector. The short nature of a project based approach to cultural support (typically with a business case of two years) limits the substantial benefits which could be realised from considering them as part of a transformational programme for the heritage sector.

  2.3 What level of public subsidy for the arts and heritage is necessary and sustainable

  2.3.1 Renaissance South East has been working with museums to help them become more economically sustainable and giving them the skills to develop into thriving, cultural organisations. The programme is transitional and will take a period of time to fully realise the benefits. Investment is necessary for this transformational programme to continue.

  2.4 Whether the current system, and structure, of funding distribution is the right one

  2.4.1 The abolition of the MLA presents an opportunity to establish a more sustainable model of funding for museum transformation in which it directly meets the regions needs and has a low central administration. The process of transition needs to be transparent and have adequate time for local consultation.

  2.4.2 This investment must be highly targeted. We propose to build upon the achievements of Renaissance and focus on activities that strengthen the economic performance in the regions. Specifically future funding should be used to support activities that encourage national and international tourism, sustain quality of place at a local level, improve the quality of life for all residents, and encourage centres of excellence. Activities that develop a skilled workforce and that inspire Big Society.

  2.4.3 The South East region is one of the greatest contributors to the nation's economy and will be vital to its recovery. Many of the communities in the South East have high cultural participation, cutting back significantly on investment in museums and wider cultural activity in this difficult financial climate will be counterproductive in terms of economic recovery in the short and longer term. Clearly efficiencies and savings need to be made, but now is the time to continue a good degree of investment if we are to look after the reputation of the South East as a quality place to live and attract business. See Appendix A for précis of the South East Museum context.

  2.4.4 This investment must be highly targeted. We propose to build upon the achievements of Renaissance and focus on activities that strengthen the economic performance of the South East. Specifically future Renaissance funding would be used to support activities that encourage national and international tourism, and that sustain quality of place at a local level. Activities that develop a skilled workforce and that inspire Big Society. The programme would continue to make museums more economically sustainable, joining up with other cultural providers to maximise resources and potential.

  2.5 What impact recent changes to the distribution of National Lottery funds will have on arts and heritage organisations

  2.5.1 Jeremy Hunt's promise of more lottery money for heritage, that the Heritage Lottery Fund would receive an increased share of lottery profits, back to the levels it received when the lottery was founded in 1994 has been welcomed by museums. As other sources of capital funding for museum-related projects become harder to access, the Heritage Lottery Fund will become even more key to museums' drive to revitalise their services and ensure they are relevant to modern audiences, so that they can continue to increase the public's interest in the past and the world around them.

  2.6 Whether the policy guidelines for National Lottery funding need to be reviewed

  2.6.1 There needs to be an increase in the flexibility regarding match funding as other sources of funding become even harder to unlock.

  2.7 The impact of recent changes to DCMS arm's-length bodies—in particular the abolition of the UK Film Council and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council

  2.7.1 The most significant impact of the changes is the increased uncertainly it has perpetuated in the heritage sector. The abolition of the MLA as a wider umbrella organisation for the sector increases the need for strong regional organisations such as Renaissance which can support the transformational change of the sector.

  2.8 Whether businesses and philanthropists can play a long-term role in funding arts at a national and local level

  2.8.1 Yes, there is scope for greater involvement of business and philanthropists in the long term funding of the heritage sector. This approach requires further investigation to identify how external funding can be optimised to support the heritage sector in the long term. Something in here about how successful Arts and Business has been as an organisation especially within the arts sector and how this can possibly be replicated in the museums sector?

  2.9 Whether there need to be more Government incentives to encourage private donations.

  2.9.1 Private donations to museums will be become an increasing source of revenue, especially in larger scale capital projects. Government incentives to make private donations easier would be welcomed by the sector.

September 2010

previous page contents next page

© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 30 April 2011