Friday, 26 August 2016

New National Museum Policies and their Impact on Collection Managers by Katie Childs (Policy and Projects Manager, National Museum Directors' Council)


Katie Childs opened the July UKRG event “Things you never knew you never knew” giving us an overview of the changes and reviews which are currently happening in the British public museums and galleries sector.

Since April there have been many changes in Parliament and the entire museum sector was reviewed in terms of how museums work together, regional and local provisions.

In her talk Katie focused mainly on the new Culture White Paper which was published in March, 51 years after the first version.
The Culture White Paper has four main targets:
                    Make culture accessible by everybody no matter people's backgrounds or education.
                    Make communities across the country benefit of culture through partnerships between national and local institutions.
                    Use culture to create international collaborations and to promote UK global reputation.
                    Increase investments and incentives in the cultural sector through government diversified funds.

In the UK cultural sector museums and art galleries play a substantial role.
In the past 10 years the number of visitors has hugely increased and museums have become extremely popular. People recognise them as important and trustworthy institutions and they enjoy spending time there.
It has been seen that museums create prosperity for communities and territory in addition to increase tourism.




Katie highlighted the importance for national museums and art galleries to share their skills and expertise working in partnership with local museums. Partnerships should be transparent, flexible, mutually beneficial, frequent and numerous. Partnerships could improve areas such as collection management, loans, storage, training sessions.

In addition Katie mentioned the following big changes that have happened since March 2016:

                    New Arts Council England Investment Model whose goals are:
- Including museums and libraries in the investment portfolio for the first time.
- Lengthening national portfolio funding agreements for three to four years.
- Opening up grants for arts programmes to museums and libraries.

                    Changes to Local Authority Funding which are happening all over the country:
1. Finance:
- Significant and rapid reduction in funding from central government.
- Will be replaced by local business rates revenue retention by 2020.
- Restriction on Council Tax rises.
- Growing statutory service costs.
- Museums are not statutory services.

2. Devolution:
- Devolution of spending decisions from central government to city and town halls.
- Secondary devolution.
- Combined authorities and elected Mayors.
- City deals.

3. Local enterprise partnership:
- Local economic planning.
- Replace regional development agencies.
- Limited museum representation.
- Can bring benefit for culture.

4. Place making:
- DCMS policy.
- Major civic institutions.
- Supporting peaceful and prosperous communities.
- Museums make a place attractive to live in, work in and visit.

                    Culture, Media and Sport Committee Inquiry

                    Scottish Cultural Strategy

                    DCMS Museums Review

                    Welsh Museums Review

                    Review of Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund


Finally Katie told us it is too early for DCMS to know the consequences that Brexit will have on the museums sector. In the meantime she offered some good advice to avoid panic.


After the sad episodes of exclusion and racism happened in England straight after the referendum, museums want to reassure people they are safe and welcoming places of inclusion.
We know museums have a great impact on society but it has been very nice of Katie to remind us that if the government and people invest on museums it is thanks to our actions and expertise.


For further information, Katie can be contacted at katiechilds@nationalmuseums.org.uk


By Greta Casacci, Project Collections Registrar, National Galleries of Scotland

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