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Double Decker Banter

February 10, 2016

exeter busOne of my regular themes on this blog is the future of museums in the age of austerity.  How can cultural organisations survive and still remain relevant and welcoming places for visitors?  Well today I met a museum colleague from the south coast on the top deck of an Exeter bus.  She had some interesting things to say about the future of museums.  Her insights were:

Museums do some darn good work with schools, families, older and vulnerable people.  But for most of the time this work is largely low profile and key funders in these areas are unaware of the role they play.

Local authorities are reducing their funding for museums, whether this is council run museums or grants to independents.  But there are still ways the public sector can support museums  through in kind benefits or social capital.

All too often museums pursue the latest pot of money, rather than act in a more strategic way.  This approach tends to mean that projects and initiatives can be rather short termist.  Today it maybe funding for working with war veterans and next year the priority for funders could be carers.

My co-passenger suggested that a more holistic approach is required to ensure long term success.  Local partnerships need to be nurtured and relationships grown.  When funding opportunities do spring up, they should be sustainable and continue to benefit the museum and its partners for the long haul.  Potential partners could be public bodies which do not usually acknowledge the work of museums, such as Children’s Services in Councils or national bodies (e.g. Department for Education).  The local school maybe a good partner but they rarely have any significant funds.

At that point we reached our destination and we had to disembark, but it was a stimulating conversation on the top deck. From my point of view I will be returning to Christchurch where the museum is an active member of the Dementia Action Alliance and we are working on ways how we can utilise our collections and venue to support the growing need of dementia sufferers and their carers.


Red House Museum a founder member of the Christchurch Dementia Action Alliance 



From → Funding, partnerships

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