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Tuesday 07 July 2020

Government must do “whatever is needed” to safeguard museums and galleries

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The FDA has welcomed the government’s announcement of a £1.57 billion rescue package to support Britain’s cultural, arts and heritage institutions, but Assistant General Secretary Amy Leversidge has warned that it exposed “the failure of the government’s current funding models” for the UK’s museums and galleries. 

The investment is intended to protect the future of Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues with emergency grants and loans, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said “will help safeguard the sector for future generations, ensuring arts groups and venues across the UK can stay afloat and support their staff whilst their doors remain closed and curtains remain down”. 

Responding to the announcement, Leversidge described it as a “much needed boost” for our cultural institutions at a time when they have “lost large chunks of income”. While the FDA is looking forward to working with museums and galleries across the UK on the detail of the package – including how it will be distributed across the four nations – Leversidge also warned that that the scale of self-generated income lost by institutions in in the wake of COVID-19 “highlights the failure of the government’s current funding models”. 

“Across the UK, we have seen direct government funding for our museums and galleries slashed over the last decade and longer, and they simply cannot continue to provide first class experiences with minimal investment,” she explained. “The institutions that have been hit hardest by COVID-19 are those that have been able to generate a higher proportion of their income through visitor attractions and have been less reliant on government funding. It is impossible to judge just how quickly these institutions’ revenues will recover and the FDA strongly believes direct support for museums and galleries through grant-in-aid funding must be increased substantially.” 

As part of the union’s evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s inquiry into the Impact of COVID-19 on DCMS sectors, FDA National Officer Helen Kenny has previously highlighted the fact that the funding models for these institutions are “fundamentally flawed” and need to change to ensure the ongoing financial health of our museums and galleries after COVID-19. 

“The government must be prepared to invest whatever is needed to safeguard our museums and galleries, protect the national treasures that they hold and ensure the British public continues to have access to its cultural heritage,” Leversidge added.

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