The UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has published the reports of the Mendoza Review: an Independent Review of Museums in England and a Strategic Review of DCMS-sponsored Museums in England. These were initiated as a result of the 2016 Culture White Paper that emphasised major themes of the role of culture in society in terms of access and diversity; the international role of UK cultural institutions; the UK-wide issue of access to culture; and investment, resilience and reform.
The Mendoza Review
looks at the development of roles:
- a joined-up approach from government
- a clearer museums role for DCMS
- national responsibilities for national museums
- a stronger development function for ACE
- a more effective use of National Lottery funding
- the closer involvement of Historic England
- national responsibilities for national museums
- how Local Authorities can best make use of their museums
- best practice suggestions for the sector itself.
with the recommendations (which have been accepted by government overall) focused in the following areas:
- Adapting to today’s funding environment: funding overall has reduced by 13% in real terms with big impacts on local authorities, resulting in some closures and moves to trusts. There are changing business models but museums are told to to increase and diversify income further to build sustainable and resilient models. Use of existing public funding needs to be smarter and more streamlined, focused on long term benefit.
- Growing and diversifying audiences: museum visits have increased significantly but visitors are less likely to be representative of the very young or very old, ethnic minorities, disabled, or lower socio-economic backgrounds. Museums are actively addressing this with a range of initiatives – nationals are mentioned particularly.
- Dynamic collections curation and management: is affirmed by the review as the fundamental point of museums – “to protect and take care of the collections they hold, and to make them accessible to the public, not just physically, but meaningfully as well”. This produces challenges: maintenance backlogs; reductions in curatorial time and expertise; and needs for growth and rationalisation of collections. Sharing skills and infrastructure is seen as a good option. There needs to be a strategic framework for national museums to work with the rest of the sector.
- Contributing to placemaking and local priorities: an emphasis in the Culture White Paper on the role of museums in communities, local decision-making, and priorities such as health and wellbeing. Museum roles in the local economy; wellbeing and education; tourism and businesses. Museums need to measure economic and social impact.
- Delivering cultural education: primarily supporting formal learning and the curriculum, but some implication of broader societal development.
- Developing leaders with appropriate skills and diversifying the workforce to adapt to reduced public funding and encourage more diverse audiences.
- Digital capacity and innovation: need for greater understanding of digital potential in museums. Emphasis on working internationally as the UK prepares for Brexit, which raises challenges for staff resources, loans/movement of objects and tours, and funding.
Strategic Review of DCMS-sponsored Museums in England
- Reaffirms the importance and value of national museums and confirms that they will continue to be Non-Departmental Public Bodies, with various options for greater freedoms and governance.
- UK Partnership Framework that will include systems for more loans from nationals to partners in the sector; sharing of collections, skills and expertise; international activity and support for inbound tourism contributes to government priorities set out in the management agreements. DCMS will develop a digital strand to the Partnership Framework that will work in tandem with policy recommendations from the Digital Culture Project, with the aim of: encouraging better integration of digital technology into business models and everyday working practices; and facilitating access to the appropriate level of digital expertise in executive teams, boards and committees, including on the use of intellectual property.
- Diversity: Changed workforce and board strategies to enable more diverse workforces as a key way of reaching and welcoming diverse audiences. Compliance with the Cabinet Office’s Governance Code on Public Appointments
- Commercial income: Sharing ideas and best practice on commercial strategies. National Audit Office will consider updating its 2004 report on income generation in museums, including compiling statistics, benchmarking income generation and making recommendations on how sponsored museums could increase revenue from commercial operations.
- Spending Review: In preparation for the next spending review, the sponsored museums and DCMS should work together to better understand the outcomes, effectiveness and economic value of each ALB. To achieve this together, the sponsored museums and DCMS will undertake, or commission, an assessment of the specific requirements of each museum, what they deliver in return for funding and the extent to which they are achieving this. In preparing for the next spending review, DCMS will review grant-in-aid in its sponsored museums and consider whether changes are required to better meet needs and recognise performance. This may include options on funding attached to performance, efficiencies and/or quality measures.
- Reserves and Capital needs: Sponsored museums should review their reserves and endowments and related policies to ensure they are appropriate for the respective organisations and are transparent. DCMS, in consultation with Her Majesty’s Treasury and the sponsored museums, will consider how best to provide and/or lever further capital funding for national museums to undertake critical maintenance and repairs in order to protect and preserve historic architecture and their estates, and to enable the museums to become as efficient and effective as possible.
- Shared Solutions project: By April 2018, DCMS and agreed sponsored museums will begin a project to identify and deliver further innovation and efficiencies. This will ensure recommendations complement the Public Bodies Relocation Programme and Industrial Strategy and is expected to include: collections management (including ethical disposals and transfers), shared storage solutions (including digitisation) and asset management; business models (including better engagement with digital technology and shared commercial operations and procurement processes); back office functions and collaboration (including the potential for shared roles and processes across smaller ALBs to improve resilience); and funding options, including joint and/or co-financing to spearhead initiatives.
- Efficiency savings: DCMS-sponsored museums should continue to submit efficiency returns, demonstrating how they intend to make year on year savings of 1% and invest these savings in front line services. DCMS-sponsored museums should aim towards 3% savings by the end of the spending review period and continue to invest these in frontline services.
- Sponsor relationships: The DCMS sponsor team and each museum will review their relationships, drawing on the Cabinet Office’s Code of Good Practice. DCMS will work with its sponsored museums to revise management agreements and performance indicators from 2018/19 in line with agreed priorities and in support of the new Partnership Framework.
- Governance and compliance: Sponsored museums will complete a corporate governance self-assessment by June 2018 and take actions by December 2018. Sponsored museums should be compliant with cyber security requirements and develop or review fraud strategy, risk assessment and fraud response plan by June 2018.
IUCN has published the 2017 World Heritage Outlook 2, examining status of the natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites since the first Outlook in 2014. Overall, there is no improvement but there has been change in status (positive or negative) for 26 of 241 sites. Threats are increasing to World Heritage Sites, with climate change the fastest growing and invasive species, climate change and tourism the largest current threats. Planned infrastructure development pressure is increasing. Improved outlooks for 14 sites are described as a result of sustained action on nature conservation.
Interactive map is at http://www.worldheritageoutlook.iucn.org/ and the full report at https://portals.iucn.org/library/sites/library/files/documents/2017-053.pdf
The UK National Audit Office has published a report on cross-government funding of research and development. This can be seen in the context of UK plans on Brexit and the need for UK Research and Innovation to develop leadership and strategic capabilities for the UK science base for the future. The findings are summarised as:
“Some areas of research have well-established arrangements to support coordination and collaboration between public-sector funders. But some newer areas, including important emerging technologies and areas of national importance, need more effective leadership.As a proportion of GDP the UK spends less on research and development than many comparable nations. Government needs a coherent view of the UK’s research strengths relative to other nations and analysis of funding in key areas of research, so that it can prioritise areas where activity is lagging behind and ensure the UK is investing in the right areas.”
In addtion to the Report, there are more detailed documents on methodology and key sectors that receive funding from multiple sources in government:
- Research and Development Evaluative Framework
- Research and development case study Climate research
- Research and development case study Energy research
- Research and development case study Human health research
- Research and development case study Robotics and autonomous systems research
- Research and development case study Advanced materials research
- Research and development case study Animal and plant health research
Spectrum 5.0 has been issued in September 2017 as the most recent update on the collections documentation standard, used by UK museums and collections management systems and software. This is one of the foundations of museum accreditation used by the Arts Council, which is currently conducting a review of accreditation to be completed in 2018.
Welcome to Policy: Science, Biodiversity and Museums
This site covers a wide range of policy issues relating to biodiversity, museums and science. It's selective and although it's a blog it is more alert than comment. John Jackson from the Natural History Museum in London maintains the site, primarily to alert colleagues and collaborators to new developments - you can use the contact link on the top right of this page. It is not an official organisational site.