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FutureTrends for Museums…

September 15, 2016

Today the news has been covering the Kings Trust/Nuffield Trusts report on the increasing cost of care for the elderly.  The underlying causes of this story have massive implications for society including museums and the cultural sector.  In short the population of the UK is ageing fast.  There are more elderly people around and their care costs are increasing at an accelerating rate while public sector spending on adult care is struggling to keep up.

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For museums this is good and bad news.  Older people tend to be the bedrock of museum volunteers, an increasingly vital component of keeping museums open.  They are also a good source of museum visitors, bringing their grey pounds to museum shops and cafes.  However as care for older people moves up the agenda, public sector funding is moving from discretionary services (museums and community bodies) to caring for older people.  Meanwhile total public spending is either declining or at best flat.

The challenge for museums is maximise the benefits of the increasing number of older people and minimise the impact of less public funds.  As it happens one of the museums I work for is located in Christchurch, which has the highest proportion of over 65s (nearly a third of the local population), the museum also receives a significant local authority grant (which has been reduced recently).   We like to think we provide an attractive offer to older folk run with help of older people.  To paraphrase a more famous saying – one day all towns will be like Christchurch.

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