Museums slash staff and opening hours after 'devastating' cuts
Of the 140 museums surveyed, 22 per cent are reducing their opening hours, and 30 per cent are cutting education staff
A fifth of British museums have been hit with "devastating" budget cuts of more than 25 per cent, according to the first wide-ranging survey of the sector since the Coalition's Comprehensive Spending Review last year.
The cuts have had an impact on opening hours, public events and staffing, the Museums Association says in its report on 140 museums across the country, published today.
Of those slashing their spending by 25 per cent or more, 85 per cent have reduced staff levels to cope with their smaller budgets. Two-thirds of those same institutions have also cut public events, and half have scaled back their opening hours.
According to Mark Taylor, the director of Museums Association, the roll-on effect of a cut in Government grants has been "devastating". "Some museums have had 15 per cent cuts, but 25 per cent cuts is teetering on edge of catastrophe," he said.
Among those considering cut-backs was Leicester City Council. Earlier this year it was reported that the city council mooted plans to withdraw public access to three institutions. The local authority says that while cutting budgets and opening hours was considered in a draft budget the proposals were not implemented. Leicester Museums include the Jewry Wall Museum, an archaeological centre which explores one of the city's most popular attractions, part of the original Roman town's public baths.
Among museums which were free but now charge admission are Aston Hall, a Jacobean mansion in Birmingham, and Bournemouth's Russell Cotes Museum – a rare surviving example of a Victorian art collector's house.
"The survey shows it is a myth that you can cut funding without affecting frontline services," said Mr Taylor. "People throughout the UK will have less access to the learning, inspiration and enjoyment that museums bring,."
Of the 140 museums surveyed, 22 per cent are reducing opening hours, 30 per cent are cutting education staff, 46 per cent expect the quality of their services to decrease, while 41 per cent say knowledge and expertise at their institution is being lost. Among those quoted in the association's report is an anonymous former curator of a museum in the South-west of England, who said: "It is a now a zombie museum."
A curator at a military museum in the South-east said: "At the moment things are staying the same. We are anticipating degradation in quality and are planning to increase the number of volunteers when we know what the situation will be."
Another curator, who also remained anonymous, added: "Year-on-year cuts are now causing alarm bells to ring. Jobs are under threat."
History across the Mersey
A museum telling the story of Liverpool opened in the city yesterday. The £72m Museum of Liverpool is the largest museum to be built in Britain for more than a century. At the opening, Professor Phil Redmond, chairman of National Museums Liverpool, said: "Liverpudlians across the ages have created a city with a host of tales to tell, and that is what the Museum of Liverpool is all about."
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 2 Emma Watson on Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak: 'Even worse than seeing women's privacy violated is reading the comments'
- 3 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Scottish independence referendum: Franz Ferdinand, Mogwai and Frightened Rabbit to play in support of Yes campaign
Jessica Chastain demands Scarlett Johansson-fronted Marvel superhero movie
Downton Abbey series 5 start date revealed: ITV drama to return in late September
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
Olivia Colman and Mary Berry top Radio Times' female power list
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain