Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by the National Museum of Science & Industry (NMSI) (arts 196)

NMSI supports the response submitted by the National Museums Directors’ Conference. Below are some additional points we wish to raise in relation to NMSI specifically.

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.

· Government funding is of particular importance to ensuring collections are housed and cared for appropriately. It is a much greater challenge to secure external funding for such work as opposed to more obviously public facing activity such as exhibitions and public programmes. We have considerable work still to do in upgrading the housing of our collections if we are to provide access to the full extent of these collections. Reductions in government funding will significantly impact on our ability to do this.

· When seeking external private funding, we can, at the moment, demonstrate NMSI commitment to a particular project through capital investment. Going forwards we may not be able to inject seed corn funding and therefore funders could question our commitment.

· Our museums based at Bradford and York are major contributors to the regional tourism economy. If they are to continue to remain attractive and draw tourists to the region, continued investment is required. Reduction in investment from Government sources will impact on the tourism economy.

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

· NMSI is already working with other national museums in the area of joint procurement. It is recognised there could be further savings if back-office functions were shared. However, if this is to be achieved strong direction and support would be needed from DCMS to challenge the status quo and enable this to be achieved in practical governance terms.

3) What level of public subsidy for the arts and heritage is necessary and sustainable.

· We reiterate NMDC’s point with regard free admission. If this continues to be Government policy it must be recognised this requires funding.

· Again, we emphasise that public subsidy for arts and heritage has a direct impact on the tourism economy and is necessary if museums are to remain primary tourist attractions.

4) Whether the current system, and structure, of funding is the right one.

· See NMDC response

5) What impact recent changes to the distribution of National Lottery Funds will have on arts and heritage organisations.

· NMSI has submitted a response to the National Lottery Shares Consultation confirming we strongly support the proposed redistribution. The HLF is a vital source of capital funding enabling us to develop and refresh our museums. Any increase to the funds available will have a beneficial impact on the visitor experience and our ability to attract visitors to the museum and region.

· It is important that HLF funds continue to be available for national organisations and large scale developments. Other Lottery funding has favoured more grass roots, community type investment.

6) Whether the policy guidelines for National Lottery funding need to be reviewed.

· NMSI has an important role in leading public engagement with science. The HLF should ensure it continues to recognise that science is an important part of culture, and be explicit in its support of this.

· It is recognised that HLF needs to ensure public money is wisely invested and desired outcomes achieved. Monitoring and supervision is an important part of this process, and one the NMSI carries out internally through its own project management procedures. HLF could reduce the burden it places on itself and other organisations when monitoring projects by recognising the management skills and experience already held by institutions delivering projects, and taking a lighter touch approach when appropriate.

· Whilst the application process to HLF has simplified there is still room for improvement. The HLF should look towards some of the private major Trusts and Foundations who regularly donate seven figure sums and how their application and monitoring process compares.

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.

· The abolition of the UK Film Council will have a direct impact on the film programme offered by the National Media Museum which is funded via Yorkshire Screen, which in itself dependent on UK Film Council funding. There is therefore uncertainty with regard who the future distributor of such funding will be.

· The abolition of MLA may see a greater advisory role placed on national museums, both with Government and the sector.

· The abolition of the RDA’s has had a direct impact on our major capital development project at the National Railway Museum, to which Yorkshire Forward had been a major funder. Such changes increase reliance on the HLF to enable the delivery of capital projects.

8) Whether business and philanthropists can play a long-term role in funding arts at a national and local level.

· There is not a culture of responsibility or duty amongst business and philanthropists to fund our sector: it is a nice to do and good business sense. We need to develop a culture where people believe it is right and proper for them to reinvest a sizeable portion of their wealth into the cultural sector, regardless of the tax incentives on offer.

· There needs to be a change in culture amongst those that do give to give significant unrestricted sums of money. This is commonplace in the Third Sector but not ours. The Third Sector has developed a sense of trust with its major funders; that they are the experts and know best how to spend their income.

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

· We agree fundraising is hugely important and anything to encourage sponsorship and donations is welcomed. However it is important to recognise this is more easily achieved in London, whilst major donations and sponsorship is much harder to achieve and rely on outside of London.

September 2010