44% say museums are the cultural experience which contributes most to quality of life in ACE survey 3/8/2018

ACE has been consulting widely through the research consultancy BritainThinks as it lays plans for its next ten-year strategy through to 2030. It has now published the findings. These show:

  • Arts, museums and libraries are valued by the public, but more needs to be done to communicate their value and relevance, especially in a time of austerity. Sector workers are much more likely to say that museums will become more important in the future (55%) than the public (37%). There is also a wide gap for the arts (76% vs 30%) and libraries (51% vs 27%)
  • However, 74% of the public say that museums are important to them and their family, and 89% say they are important to wider society. Museums are regarded as almost twice as important for ‘educating children’ (61%) and ‘educating me’ (62%) than for ‘experiencing new things’ (36%).
  • People define arts through a ‘fairly tight prism’ of forms like opera, ballet and classical music and do not always associate their own creative activities with the sector. The report suggests ACE should explore ‘reframing’ culture and producing public campaigns to demonstrate its breadth. One participant commented ‘a lot of people are engaging with art, but they don’t think it’s art’.
  • When the public are asked which cultural form contributes most to the quality of life, music comes first (56%) followed by museums (44%) with libraries close behind (43%).
  • Increasing sector diversity is seen as central for two thirds of sector workers interviewed, who call for progress past a ‘tick box mentality’.
  • Arts and museums and libraries need to be promoted to younger audiences, both as a resource and potential career path. It argues that current educational emphasis on STEM subjects and the perception of arts as an insecure career may both be deterrents.
  • The balance between London and the regions is a continuing issue with many of the public wanting to see more touring. One workshop participant commented “everything seems to go on in London and nowhere else in the country. Why can’t London exhibitions tour around major cities?” There were also calls to create more local involvement in arts provision.
  • Digital technology was also discussed, both as an opportunity and threat to the sector.

ACE’s new strategy will also draw from an evidence review of how the sector has performed since 2010. It will be published in autumn 2019. ACE, Museums Journal