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The Museums Association launches its Cuts Survey 2015

The Museums Association (MA) has launched the Cuts Survey 2015, its fifth annual evaluation of the health of museums across the UK. 

The Cuts Survey aims to build up a comprehensive, up-to-date picture of the cuts and changes currently affecting museums. This year’s survey contains a number of new questions relating to governance, public funding and workforce.

UPDATE

The results of the survey are now available. Please see below. Some of the key findings were:

Funding Cuts are forcing civic museums to close.

One in five respondents to the MA Survey have closed a part or branch of their museum to the public in the past year or expected to do so in the year to come. At least 44 museums have closed across the UK since 2010, and the recent announcements of new closures, notably in Lancashire, Durham, Dudley and Leicestershire, suggest that this number is set to grow in 2016. One in five museums are also expecting to introduce charging. Lancashire has reduced its museums budget by 92% and is asking all of the museums it is not shutting to introduce entry charges. This follows controversial charging decisions in Brighton and York over the past year.

Local Authority cuts to cultural services are a direct consequence of substantial cuts to Local Authority budgets since 2010.

These cuts will continue following last autumn’s Spending Review. DCLG data shows that there has been a £1bn pound drop in cultural spending by local authorities since 2010.  That equates to a 28% drop in cultural spending by local authorities since 2010. In most cases, local authorities see the value of supporting museums, but as a non-statutory area of spending, they are nevertheless seen as an easy target.

Museums in all areas of the country are suffering, but the cuts are disproportionately affecting the North of England and Northern Ireland.

Museums in those areas reported a 5% and 6% year-on-year decrease in public funding. Civic, regional museums are particularly at risk. Meanwhile, the national museums are largely protected and Arts Council England funding was protected in the autumn statement. We are now in a position where the government looks like a patron of arts and culture for the major London institutions, but a philistine to many outside London.

Museums have worked hard to find alternative sources of funds

This includes philanthropy and commercial ventures – but for most museums, these will never cover the costs of keeping the doors open, caring for important buildings and collections and carrying out the important community and social work that museums do. 

Museum Cuts 2015