18% of museums in UK closed or partly closed in 2015/2016
News, Museum Management, European funding for museums, Urban Development, News from Our Members | 17.01.2016
The Cuts Survey by the Museums Association monitors the impact of public funding cuts year-on-year since 2011.
The results of the survey, that was conducted among 115 UK museums or museum services, show the current state of the UK museums. While some of the findings, such as the increase in visitors for 61%, are welcome news, other results make the difficult financial situation very clear.
Parts or branches of museums closed or are going to close in 2016 in 18% of survey respondents' museums. Particularly in northern England, Northern Ireland and Wales large decreases can be observed. The Lancashire County Council proposed closing five museums in spring 2016, and several other local authorities are expected to follow suit. The survey resultsof the past years point out that local authority museums are particularly at risk. Those types of museums have experienced a greater decrease in total income from 2013-14 to 2014-15 than others. In an article from the Guardian published on 13 January 2016 it is stated that councillors in Lancashire have voted to reduce spending on museums from £1.3 million to less than £100,000.
As a consequence 8% of museums have started to charge in their institutions, an additional 12% plan on introducing charges in 2016. Further consequences are fewer paid staff members. In 2014 staff decreased in more than half of the museums, 24% reported a decrease in 2015. With the loss of staff the loss of expertise grows and these cuts cannot save a museum.
As a last thread even museums sometimes turn to selling objects from their collections. So far only the Northampton council sold a statue of Sekhemka in 2014 and consequently lost its Arts Council accreditation to fund an extension to Northampton museum and art gallery, but 11% of museums would consider such actions for financial reasons.
The acute situation, especially in the north, is pressing hard on the museums who still work hard to include and connect to their visitors.