Cuts and Consequences

Last week the Director of the Science Museum Ian Blatchford gave a press conference in which he warned that he may be forced to close one of his museums: the Museum of Industry in Manchester, The National Railway Museum in York or the National Media Museum in Bradford. The context for this alarming announcement is the National Spending Review.

On the 26th June the Chancellor will outline government departmental budgets for 2015-16. Up until that announcement ministers, MPs and public bodies are lobbying for their slice of public expenditure for the next two years. Ian Blatchford says he fears a ten percent cut and that this is on top of a 25% cut that his museums have had to absorb over the last four years. The Arts Council of England previously anticipated cuts of one percent this year and two percent next year but it is now reported that they have been asked to calculate the result of much bigger cuts of up to 15%. Cuts in budgets will also have a knock on effect for regional arts councils and funding for the arts via city councils. This is against a backdrop of museums and arts organisations reporting a growth in visitors: 51% of the adult population of the UK visited a Museum or gallery last year their highest recorded level.

But if you oppose these cuts what can you do about them? A number of campaigns have started. Save the National Media Museum has a twitter feed @savenmem and a petition (currently with 32,000 signatures). If you want to contribute to this campaign then now is the time to do it. This week is when the last round of negotiations are going on before the 26th June announcement of the actual budget. Beyond the threat to the Media Museum the other practical step people can take on behalf of their own local arts organisations is to write to their MP. This will register the popular support for public funding of the arts where it matters, with the politicians that are making decisions about that funding. This can be done very easily via the site They work for you which will give you contact details for your MP. A simple letter, sent this week, declaring opposition to the proposed cuts to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review, especially with reference to your own local arts organisation and the value you derive from it could make a real difference to the arts provision in the UK in the coming years.

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