Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by Renaissance South West (arts 155)

Renaissance is the Museum Library and Archive Council funded ground-breaking programme to transform England’s regional museums. Central government funding is enabling regional museums across the country to raise their standards and deliver real results in local communities. Renaissance South West is a partnership of five museum services working with the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council to deliver, on a regional basis, the Renaissance programme of investment in England's regional museums. The five parnters are;

· Bristol’s Museums and Art Galleries

· Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth

· Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Gallery, Exeter

· Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery

· Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro

This submission is in response to the following issue:

· 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;

Summary

 

This submission will demonstrate the considerable scope and impact of the Renaissance programme across the southwest region. Renaissance is increasing participation in museums, supporting the development of world-class museums and ensuring the museum sector is sustainable for the long term. This submission will demonstrate how Renaissance is providing value for money and supporting the achievement of government aims such as Big Society and Sustainable Communities. This submission focuses on the Renaissance South West circa £1million investment to Museum Development activity with the 216 Accredited / Registered museums across the southwest region.

Further reductions to the Renaissance South West programme would have a significant and detrimental impact on the programme. The South West region has already responded to a reduction in funding of over 1 million pounds as a result of the equalisation of funding between the nine English regions in 2009 and further in year cuts of 2.5% in 2010. In 2008-9 Renaissance South West received central government funding of £4,902,610 and in 2009-10 of £4,322,969 and has a provisional allocation in 2010-11 of £4,736,759. Further reductions would inhibit the programme from delivering vital front line services and improvements in museums for local communities across the region.

1. Renaissance South West reaches 216 Accredited museums1 and many more community heritage groups across the region through funding for Museum Development Officers.

2. Renaissance South West funding provides vital leverage for additional investment from both public and private sectors.

3. The Renaissance South West investment in Museum Development Officers enables local community and small independent museums to achieve and sustain professional standards

4. Renaissance funding ensures that ‘Big Society’ is a reality in museums across the region for the benefit of local communities

5. Renaissance funding ensures that the South West museum sector continues to be a key incentive for tourism and, as a result, a vital contributor to economic development in the region.

6. Targeted Renaissance investment has provided unique employment and training opportunities for young people in museums as part of the cultural and creative sectors

7. The Renaissance investment continues to support increased participation in museums and heritage and provide education, enjoyment and enrichment for all

1. Renaissance reaches 216 Accredited museums across the region by funding Museum Development Officers.

Renaissance South West is a central government funded programme investing £36,000,000 in transforming regional museums in the South West 2002-11. Whilst the programme is focused on achieving transformation in the five key partners, Bristol City Museums & Art Gallery, Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Gallery, Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery and Royal Cornwall Museum, it also plays a vital part in supporting the other 206 Accredited museums across the South West region. In order to fully understand the impact of spending cuts it is vital to fully understand the considerable impact that the Renaissance investment has had and will continue to deliver if current levels of funding are maintained.

The South West region is the largest English region and has arguably the highest number of museums. Over half of the regions museums are located in two counties; Devon and Cornwall. Museums in the South West region hold c.14.5 million objects of which 45% are deemed to be nationally significant. Ten museums in the South West region hold Designated Collections; recognised as pre-eminent collections of national and international significance2. There are over 450 museum and community heritage organisations of which 216 meet the national minimum standard The Museum Accreditation Scheme3. Combined, these museums represent participation levels of over 5 million visits per year, almost 8% of all United Kingdom museum visits. Despite these incredible numbers, most museums in the southwest are small, with over half having annual visitor numbers of 10,000 or less. The southwest has a wealth of small community heritage museums that play a vital role in providing communities with a sense of place. Over 70% of the regions museums4 are independent trusts One in four of the museum sector workforce is volunteer. The Renaissance South West investment supports a delicate ecology of museum development support and professional sector advice to the independent museum sector. This is delivered in partnership with many local authorities across the region. The Museum Development support network has its origins in the regional museum council established over 50 years ago. The current structures provide exceptional value for money and almost comprehensive coverage across this large and challenging region. Stability, in terms of moving from single year funding agreements to a minimum of three-year funding agreements, would provide immeasurable benefits in enabling capacity building and also in supporting long-term sustainability.

Museum Development Officers provide a unique and vital role for local community museums and heritage organisations in the region. Through their local and county networks they provide vital access to information and funding from a wide range of private and public sources. Only by working collectively can local voluntary and community museums demonstrate their vital contribution to wider agendas such as social cohesion, civic participation, sense of place and local distinctiveness.

2. Renaissance funding provides vital leverage for additional investment from both public and private sectors.

The Renaissance investment provides leverage against local government investment in Museum Development Officers. On an annual basis eleven Local Authorities5 including Town, District, Unitary and County Councils invest approximately £60,000 in Museum Development Officers as part of a number of service level agreements with Renaissance South West. In 2010-11 the Renaissance South West programme will provide match funding of c. £100,000 to support the employment of ten museum development officers within the South West region. These Museum Development Officers will provide direct access to professional advice and support to over 200 museums, community heritage groups and organisations across the South West region. There are a further six Museum Development Officers within the South West supported exclusively by local authorities with an approximate investment of £150,000. These Museum Development Officers provide professional advice and support to a further 30 Accredited museums and many more community heritage groups.

Museum Development Officers provide central coordination at county and sub-county level to enable economies of scale, identify and secure additional investment. For example, in many areas Museum Development Officers coordinate shared marketing initiatives on behalf of museums to ensure their limited marketing budgets have maximum impact. As a result of this coordinated approach they are able to secure non-sector partners and additional investment e.g. the Devon Museums Leaflet is distributed across the county and in 2010 secured sponsorship from Helpful Holidays, a regional tourist accommodation provider.

3. The Renaissance investment in Museum Development Officers enables community and independent museums to achieve and sustain professional standards.

100% of museums in the South West involve volunteers in the delivery of museum services. Over 70% of the South West’s museum community is either run by, or entirely relies upon volunteers for delivery (Towse Harrison, 2003) . 71% of Accredited Museum organisations are independent charities. The Renaissance South West investment provides those museums without museum professional staff to access professional expertise in order that they can achieve and maintain appropriate professional sector standards. 216 museums in the region meet or exceed the national minimum standard Accreditation in all areas such as governance, care of collections, education and learning services and visitor services. By meeting the national minimum standard the sector can provide a consistent and professional service and ensure ongoing improvements in response to user need. Renaissance provides further targeted support in priority areas such as Early Years, providing a trusted and quality service to families and visitors with children under 5s.

The Renaissance funded service provided by Museum Development Officers is the only source of direct museum professional expertise available to over half of the Accredited museums within the region.

4. Renaissance funding ensures ‘Big Society’ is a reality in museums across the region for the benefit of local communities

The DEFRA sustainable development indicators (DEFRA 31/08/106) show a deterioration in community participation at a national level. However the South West region bucks the trend with a 2% increase to 49% in overall volunteering. The museum sector is a significant contributor to community participation as 100% of museums in the South West involve volunteers in the delivery of museum services.

Renaissance funded local surveys carried out in 2009-10 provide clear evidence of the impact of volunteering and the need for coordination in the museum volunteer sector;

· There are, at least, 1463 active volunteers in museums in Somerset giving an average of 13,532 hours a month with an estimated economic value of £2.36 million pounds a year.7

· There are, at least, 737 active volunteers in museums in Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire giving an average of 6544 hours a month with an estimated economic value of £1.2 million pounds a year.8 This survey demonstrated that the increase in volunteering in museums exceeded the local authority National Indicator NI6 target twofold.

· There are, at least, 573 active volunteers in museums in Wiltshire giving an average of 3456 hours a month with an estimated economic value of £592,457 pounds a year.

Similar figures demonstrating the economic value of volunteering will result from surveys currently being carried out in Cornwall, Devon and Dorset in the autumn.

5. Renaissance funding ensures that the South West museum sector continues to be a key incentive for tourism and a contributor to the regions economic development

Cultural heritage and the region’s tourist industry are inter-connected, attracting an estimated 22.5 million domestic and international visitors in 2009 with a spend of £9.3 billion and a market specialization in domestic holidays (South West Tourism, April 2009). Towards 2015, the South West Tourism Strategy states there are 26 million visitors to the South West each year. Tourism provides 10% of our regions GDP and is worth over 9 billion to our regions economy.

It is widely recognised that museums and heritage provide a vital incentive for tourism in the South West. Tourism South West identifies holidays in which arts, culture and history play a prominent role as a key growth trend for tourism in the southwest. The 2009 Tourism South West visitor profile research identifies over half of visitors are interesting in visiting a museum or gallery as part of their stay in the region. Renaissance South West is working with and targeting investment in priority tourist areas, Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Wiltshire, the Cotswolds and the Forest of Dean to ensure a closer relationship with Destination Marketing Organisations, Tourism South West. By aligning existing and quality new digital content museums can contribute to the regional marketing of the uniqueness and diversity of the South West cultural and natural history and support an increase in tourism.

6. Targeted Renaissance investment has provided vital employment and training opportunities for young people in museums as part of the cultural and creative sectors

With a challenging employment environment for young people and reduction in university places it is essential to provide a variety of entry-level routes into the profession. In response to the findings of the Cultural Heritage Blueprint (Creative and Cultural Skills, 2008) Renaissance South West is taking action. In 2010-11 Renaissance South West has invested in the establishment of a regional Creative Apprenticeship network. By developing partnerships between key training providers in the region, museum organisations and agencies such as Connections, Renaissance SW has increased awareness and the quality of on the job training. In a sector primarily driven by high academic entry-level requirements the Creative Apprenticeship has had a wide range of benefits. These include raising confidence of the sector in providing work based training with young people as well as opening up opportunities to young people who considered the door closed to those without degrees. With a relatively modest investment of £60,000 Renaissance has grown the investment by securing additional funding to enable the creation of three Creative Apprenticeship clusters in Wiltshire, Plymouth and Bristol. Renaissance South West is actively engaged in developing a sustainable relationship between museum employers and training providers in conjunction with key national agencies such as Foundation Degree Forward and Creative & Cultural Skills.

7. The Renaissance investment continues to support increased participation in museums and heritage and provide education, enjoyment and enrichment for all

South West museums attract c.5 million visits per year and nearly a third of those visits are made by children9. Renaissance South West has delivered and continues to support a wide range of initiatives to support increased participation. In preparation for the increase of local, national and international visitors for the 2012 Olympics, Renaissance South West is investing £40,000 to support museums based along the Jurassic Coast. This funding, matched with private and local government investment, will deliver innovate and fun displays and interpretation for the family market as well as to increase the professionalism of display standards and interpretation for all visitors to enjoy.

September 2010


[1] Accreditation, the United Kingdom national minimum standard for the museum sector.

[2] Designation http://www.mla.gov.uk/what/raising_standards/designation

[3] Total given in anticipation of the September 2010 Accreditation panel meeting.

[4] SWMLAC Regional needs 2004

[5] Cornwall County Council, Bude-Stratton Town Council, East Devon District Council, West Devon District Council, North Devon District Council, Torridge District Council, Teignbridge District Council, Somerset Council, South Somerset District Council, Dorset County Council, Bath & North East Somerset Council.

[6] http://www.defra.gov.uk/sustainable/government/progress/regional/factsheets.htm

[7] Somerset Volunteering Renaissance funded survey with a 79% response rate and using the HLF standard calculation for volunteer contribution.

[8] Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire funded survey using the HLF standard calculation for volunteer contribution.

[9] SWMLAC Regional needs 2004