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Museums and the last Coalition Budget

March 23, 2015

The last 5 years have created tough times for many museums, as austerity has bitten, effecting public funding, struggling tourism demand and visitors spending less on discretionary items.  Probably the biggest measure to impact many museums will be the proposed budget cuts to governmental departments for the next 2 years.   This will impact, local government funded museums, nationals and the national museums quango – the Arts Council for England, which provides revenue grants to the larger non national museums.  Local authority museums have been having a hard time, as this part of the public sector has been particularly hard hit, and unfortunately Councils tend to slash budgets of less high profile services.  Think about it, if you run a Council, you are likely to protect children’s or old people’s services compared to the local art gallery, indeed the pot hole budget will get a higher priority.

Osbourne's 2015 Budget

George’s 2015 Budget

However the Chancellor has offered some crumbs of comfort for a select few.  The RAF museum at Hendon will get £2.5 million for renovation and a new museum will be created at Filton to recognise the UK’s flying heritage.  There is also some tweaking to assist smaller charities (many smaller museums fit into this category) so they can claim a bit more tax back.  But despite the lobbying of the tourism sector there were no exemptions from VAT or support to assist museums to increase their income from philanthropy.

RAF Hendon ready for relaunch

RAF Hendon ready for relaunch

As the economy starts to recover museums will have to look to themselves to raise new income whether from visitors, corporate giving or the Lottery; but not the public purse (unless of course your are Hendon or Filton).

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