Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by East Midlands Museum Service (arts 99)

Funding of Arts and Heritage

· 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;

1.0 Concern about the winding up of MLA, with implications for:

· Future of core programmes i.e. Accreditation; Designation; security; Government Indemnity Scheme; Portable Antiquities Scheme; V&A Purchase Fund – and, of course, Renaissance and Museum Development.

· Maintaining direct dialogue with national government via a specific body that leads on sectoral work and issues;

· Potential loss of advocacy, influencing and networking at national and local levels, which may lead to decrease in the profile/perception about the value and relevance of museums – perverse, given the work museums do that are in line with Big Society themes and objectives.

1.1 All of this untimely, when cuts are already impinging at local level, and we are noting:

· Redundancies and frozen posts – with implications for decline in standards through the loss of curatorial and collections knowledge and expertise. This will ultimately impact on the long-term care of the collections our museums hold in trust for the present and future generations, as well as services for users;

· Closures and restricted opening hours – limiting access to collections and, again, services for users.

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

2.0 The Renaissance programme has amply demonstrated the benefits of collaborative working in the museum sector: between regional partner services, and with the wider regional museum community, as well as collaborations with national museums. This has been achieved through programmes, projects, workforce development, grants, advice, support and an enhanced county museum fora provision, developed by the museum development officer network. The system of Museum Development Officers and Collections Access Assistants has been a great success in the East Midlands allowing small and independent museums to access expert opinion, help and training. This framework and collaboration has raised standards and encouraged museums to work in partnership, making best use of limited resources and best serving their users and communities.

2.1 Here in the East Midlands, EMMS provides a low-cost, effective network for museums of all types and sizes (and their practitioners, trustees and elected members). It has worked effectively in partnership with both MLA and REM as the East Midlands Museums Partnership to ensure that museums, and those who use them, are being best served. We suggest this is a workable and successful model that should be supported to take the work forward strategically. EMMS is an organisation with a track record; it has earned the trust of the regional museum community, has been able to work efficiently and flexibly in partnership with others. It could be replicated in other areas.

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

3.0 Perhaps we might ask what level of public subsidy would be necessary to pick up the shortfall in the services and benefits that arts and museums bring to a range of people at a very cost effective rate! There is strong evidence to demonstrate the impact and cost effectiveness of the work that museums and arts organisations contribute to:

· Safe communities

· Health and well being

· Citizenship and democracy

· Sense of place and cultural identity

· Inward investment and spending through tourism etc

Many arts and heritage organisations already have in place collaborative work with a wide range of partners e.g. police, Primary Care Trusts, schools

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

4.0 Arts and heritage organisations do great work on relatively little – they could do so much more developmental and sustainable work if funding programmes could be on a three-year rolling cycle. The arms length principle has been around since the 1940s – and provides a valuable interface between the funders and funded. However, at its worst, it has been perceived as too bureaucratic and constant restructuring and changes in policy over the past 10 years have wasted large amounts of money, which could be better spent. Direct funding from DCMS, supported by advisory and representative committees – including practitioners – and key sectoral/representative bodies e.g. Museums Association might be a way forward. However, it would be important to ensure such bodies themselves were fit for purpose.

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

5.0 We welcome any increase in the funding available to museums and the arts – especially where existing good work can be developed in a sustainable way.

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

6.0 We feel strongly that revenue funding should be included as many projects have fallen by the wayside due to lack of funding to ensure their continuation .

· 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;

7.0 See above. With recent restructures at MLA and a loss of staff, there is concern that future plans for the next 18 months, and the work that MLA has been managing – particularly with regard to Renaissance, Accreditation and museum development, will lose impetus. Many initiatives, such as those being pursued by the Renaissance Collections Specialist Panel to produce a regional collecting strategy, have not yet reached fruition.

7.1 These programmes have been extremely successful in raising standards and access to collections, in both public and independent organisations. We need to be able to plan strategically as a matter of some urgency, so this excellent work is not lost – there needs to be continuity throughout the transition period, with decisions being made and announced well in advance of implementation, for the benefit of the sector and for people who will be affected.

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

8.0 Yes – but as part of a tapestry of support. Two major concerns about this being the principal source of future funding:

· That private and commercial funding can, and often does, impact on what is funded and how – can skew provision for the wrong reasons;

· Most funding of this type goes to the larger national organisations in the major cities; smaller organisations, and those outside of London, will be left competing for limited funding for work that is important and/or innovative, but does not have the appeal or profile an individual or business might seek.

· Whether there needs to be more Government incentives to encourage private donations.

9.0 The 2008 manifesto, Private Giving for the Public Good, makes the case for providing greater incentives for living donors to make gifts of objects to the cultural sector, and to give greater recognition to people who give to the cultural sector. Have the recommendations been considered? Suggest organisations such as Arts & Business be consulted.


September 2010