Museum policy UK: national and regional funding - ongoing debates


The UK is seeing ongoing active debate on regional/national funding allocations for arts and culture, mentioned in a previous postRebalancing our Cultural Capital - a 2013 analysis of inequalities in public funding - has now been joined by A Simple Proposition from the same authors (Stark, Gordon and Powell) and a Response from Arts Council England (ACE) annotated by the authors.  Also from 2013 was Where is Private Investment in the Arts Going? from Arts & Business. 

These issues of geographical inequities and transparency were explored at the UK Museums Association Conference in 2013 with a presentation by David Anderson (video, summary and commentary from Maurice Davis of the MA).

A more general think tank view of economic rebalancing is found in Transforming the Market: Towards a New Political Economy (Patrick Diamond, 2013, published by Civitas).  This perspective argues for the rebalancing of the UK economy in both sectoral and geographical terms, with an emphasis on economic issues, but including creative industry, some aspects of education and the idea of moral balance in political terms.

The UK parliament's House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee has announced an inquiry (likely to hear evidence in March 2014) to look at the Work of Arts Council England - a general investigation but including economic and artistic criteria that underpin funding decisions, and seeking views on "whether the geographical distribution of funding is fair and the justification for the current weighting of this towards London".  A short debate (skip to 2.30 p.m. in the link) on Regional Arts and Culture took place in parliament on 4 February 2014 in Westminster Hall in which parliamentarians explored the issues and heard the response of the minister responsible for culture.

A strong emphasis in these discussions is funding for performing arts and fine arts, with some attention to museums as part of the arts and creative sectors. There is not yet a lot of inclusion of broader cultural capital in terms of public experience and engagement of the humanities, social sciences or natural sciences, or the work of libraries, heritage organisations and others.

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith