The Mendoza Review has been published, the first comprehensive review of museums in England in more than a decade. The Review praises a ‘strong, dynamic sector’ which has been ‘transformed’ over the past 25 years, but makes recommendations about how bodies could be more joined up. Mendoza’s assessment of the sector finds:
Funding has been broadly flat in the last few years, but this amounts to a 13% decrease when inflation is taken into account. Declines in funding have been mitigated by HLF money and changes to tax rules. There is unlikely to be more government money for museums, therefore the report focuses on optimising the resources the sector has.
Local authorities have been particularly affected by cuts, leading to a move towards trusts and similar structures. Museums have successfully changed business models but will need to do more of this.
If all the methods of government funding of museums are included, it gave £844m to museums in 2016 – 17.
The main recommendations are:
ACE and HLF, the most prominent sector funders, should streamline their processes so that the museums which need support the most can gain easy access.
DCMS, ACE and HLF should work together to provide a lead for strategic sector development. Issues to cover range from the demographics of audiences to delivering cultural education, working internationally and contributing to placemaking.
DCMS will work with ACE to create a Museums Action Plan to be delivered by September 2018 “aligning capital and resource funding, grant programmes, and support over the next four years”.
DCMS will develop a more strategic role towards for museums with opportunities for the sector including social investment action plans and participation in Tourism Action Plans.
Promoting and increasing confidence in the Government Indemnity Scheme to encourage borrowers and lenders, and reserving commercial insurance for exceptional cases.
DCMS, ACE and HLF to develop a Culture and Sport Evidence project to quantify the impact of museums.
Work with the FCO, British Council and other bodies to promote museums seeking to tour and promote their work internationally.
Nationals should develop a more explicit country-wide role, with a partnership framework extending their support throughout England over issues such as collections, audiences, digital, international and commercial work.
HLF funding should focus on ‘existing estate’ and not create new museums unless there is a proven local need. It should support ‘back of house’ projects like collections and digitisation, and encourage partnership projects between museums of all kinds.
There should be a closer relationship with Historic England.
There should be an exploration of more operational freedom for local authority museums, including financial management, reinvestment of income, online presence and brand identity.
Local authorities should seek partnerships with LEPs, broker partnerships between museums and local businesses, education and health authorities. If they are unable to support museums they should seek ‘alternative sustainable futures’ for them, including outside the council.
The report cites NMDC members Derby Museums Trust, Leeds City Museum and York Museums Trust among others as exemplars of working innovatively to deal with challenging financial scenarios and attract new audiences. Culture Minister John Glen says the government accepts the review and now intends to implement it. Gov.uk (full report), Gov.uk (John Glen welcomes review), Gov.uk (press release)
DCMS has also published a Strategic Review of the 15 museums it directly sponsors. Many of the themes in the report overlap with the Mendoza Review, and the two documents are intended to be read together. The report describes these museums as ‘indispensable’ and a ‘source of national pride’. It recommends:
A 'Shared Solutions' project to begin in April 2018, looking at efficiencies in collections management, shared storage solutions, digitisation, back office functions, new business models and funding options. Museums should make 1% efficiencies each year and reinvest them in front line services.
NMDC and national museums to work with DCMS, ACE and HLF to create a Partnership Framework, emphasising skills sharing as well as more ‘effective, strategic and frequent’ loans to museums across the country.
Museums which achieve 50% commercial income to have the option of becoming a public corporation. At present, no national museum generates more than 26% of its income from commercial activities.
An emphasis on diversifying Boards to become more representative.
Museum sector bodies have responded the Mendoza Review. NMDC’s full response is here. In general, sector response has been positive, but with expressions of concern about funding.
NMDC noted that the Review responds to issues highlighted by sector bodies, and that government has listened to and adopted ideas on how it can better support the sector. It also welcomed the proposals for greater freedoms for local authority museums, but said the Review “underplays the degree of crisis and sustainability risks faced by local authority-funded museums, the most pressing issue facing the whole sector.” It also pointed to the ‘hollowing out’ of collections and curatorial expertise as regional museums make tradeoffs to keep the doors open, and the lack of a recommendation on business rates.
HLF welcomed the call for more strategic working, and noted the emphasis on infrastructure “although these issues could never be solved by National Lottery funding alone”. It said that it would prioritise public engagement and sustainability, as appropriate for a National Lottery funder.
ACE said it supports the Review’s recommendations, especially around alignment of investment. It will create a Museums Action Plan with HLF and also create an MoU, to clarify how the two bodies will work together. ACE will also explore opportunities for closer work between museums and arts organisations.
Among commentators, TheGuardian praised the review for “making the argument for the real value that museums represent in return for what – compared with, say, the bill for adult social care – is a tiny investment”. It pointed to work museums do for social good such as dementia programmes, and said that the case must continue to be made that funding to do more is a tiny fraction of national public spend. Art Industry’s Simon Tait questioned whether the sector can do more, especially in terms of ‘pastoral’ support of smaller museums, with no more funds to back ambitions. NMDC, ACE, HLF, AIM, Guardian, Taitmail, Arts Professional
Industrial strategy: Blue Planet and other documentaries outstrip car manufacturing
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has published its Industrial Strategy White Paper, which sets out plans to increase productivity and lend support in major sectors from retail to manufacturing. The paper includes some references to cultural work including:
plans for a Creative Industries Clusters programme, creating eight research partnerships outside London between universities and businesses, first aired in a review by Sir Peter Bazalgette last September.
£33m for virtual and augmented reality projects.
A Creative Industries Policy and Evidence centre to increase understanding of the value of the sector.
A three-year trade strategy to grow creative talent and exports after Brexit.
There will be increased investment in the Higher Education Innovation Fund.
The FT said that the government needed to be more realistic about the shifts in the country’s economy: films and documentaries, including the widely exported Blue Planet II, are now a bigger slice, at 0.9%, than car manufacturing (0.8%) and pharmaceuticals (0.7) – but all are minnows compared to retail, professional services, healthcare, finance, education and real estate which together make more than half of GDP. The Design Council said that the emphasis on STEM subjects was not matched by an appreciation of design and technology, and that the sector contributed double the £71.7bn estimated in the report to the economy. The Creative Industries Federation welcomed the general direction of the report, but said much more was needed to prevent a ‘haemorrhaging of talent’ after the UK leaves the EU. Gov.uk, Guardian, Design Week, Arts Professional, FT, Universities UK
Review of the Heritage Lottery Fund and National Heritage Memorial Fund
DCMS has published its findings following a Review of HLF and NHMF. In general, evidence given in the consultation period was very positive, with 97% of respondents saying that HLF's work is needed and 79% saying it is a ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ effective funding body. Stakeholders were particularly positive about the HLF’s regional presence. Areas highlighted for development by the Reveiw include:
Accessibility: HLF should streamline its processes, collect data about audience diversity and think ambitiously about digital.
HLF’s business transformation programme should improve its efficiency. This work has already begun.
HLF should also improve governance, and increase the diversity and skills of its Board.
HLF should remain at arm’s length from government and should report in a more structured way, particularly around how its work benefits lottery players. The report also advises the Scottish and Welsh government to review their policy directions to HLF, to make sure these are still in line with their ambitions.
Echoing the Mendoza Review, HLF should review its relationship with other government funded cultural bodies, and work with them in a more co-ordinated way.
In its response HLF said that many of the recommendations are already being implemented, and that it will be clarifying its priorities in the upcoming Strategic Framework, on which it will be consulting in 2018. Gov.uk, HLF, Museums Journal
HLF's funding for heritage projects for next year will be more than halved from the £432m it spent in 2016–17. It will spend £305m this financial year and will have £190m available in 2018–19. The shift is partly due to lower Lottery receipts, and partly because it has reached the end of a period of reducing its reserves. HLF has published an overview of its strategic plans in the light of this, which include:
No major heritage grants over £5m in 2019. The last date for applying for grants in 2018 is 16th August 2018.
No new rounds of targeted programmes such as Parks for People.
From January to March 2019 there will only be Round Two awards and Round One grants up to £100k as HLF readjusts.
HLF said in a statement: “We have made a series of changes to the way we make grants as we prepare for our next five-year funding framework, starting in 2019. This is partly in response to a reduction in National Lottery income, and to make sure our reserves, commitments and income are aligned. We are also taking the opportunity during this transitional year to simplify our grant programmes. Following some years of historically high investment, we will be distributing less money during 2018. However, this will still be a substantial sum – in the region of £190m – and we will still be supporting a broad range of heritage right across the UK.”
In June it was reported that National Lottery ticket sales had fallen by around 9% over a year from £7.6bn to £6.9bn. HLF, Telegraph
DCMS has published a Heritage Statement, giving the government’s ‘direction and priorities’ for heritage in the next few years, dovetailing with commitments from the 2016 Culture White Paper and Industrial Strategy. The sector covers a very broad range of groups from English Heritage, the National Trust and Church of England to small charities and private landowners, caring for 377,000 listed buildings. The report found that:
The sector’s Gross Value Added rose 7% to £987m in 2016, employs 278,000 people directly or indirectly in England and gives a 60% return on public investment. It is also a crucial driver to tourism, with half of all holidays in England including a visit to a castle or historic house.
Priorities for the sector include:
Partnership between local communities and heritage organisations will be at the heart of the strategy. Historic England will launch a new scheme to help communities “identify, mark and celebrate the events people and places that are important to them”.
Culture Minister John Glen will set up a Heritage Council to allow all government departments to collaborate where their work touches on heritage. Making it easier to repurpose old buildings will be among the issues addressed.
DCMS will work to make sure the role of heritage in placemaking is understood and embedded in Industrial Strategy sector deals. Heritage will also feed into the government’s forthcoming 25-year plan for the environment.
Local planning authorities will be encouraged to ‘invest in the custodians of the historic environment’ and work more closely with Historic England.
A review and update of the ‘Principles of Selection for Listing Buildings’ will be undertaken.
Work with heritage organisations to reduce the number of buildings on Historic England’s ‘Heritage At Risk’ register. Currently over 5,000 are at risk.
Archives and data on the historic environment to be made more accessible for public and professional use through digitisation projects with HLF, Historic England and others.
More work like the HLF's ‘Kick The Dust’ initiative, which gives a voice to younger people in the heritage sector.
Further work to diversify the heritage workforce.
The principles of the Culture and Sport Evidence programme to be applied to heritage projects, thus generating economic data on the sector strong enough to use in government business cases.
DCMS will work with large bodies including HLF and Historic England to look at ways of generating funds from philanthropy, crowdfunding and repayable finance.
Touching on the reduction of funding, Culture Minister John Glen said “I am sure you are all aware of the financial challenge to be faced due to falling lottery receipts. I am confident that the heritage sector can rise to this challenge and find new, innovative sources of funding. My new Heritage Council can help to identify and promote new ways of raising funding and investment.” Gov.uk (full report), Gov.uk (John Glen’s launch speech)
Historic England has published Heritage Counts 2017, the 16th annual survey of the state of England’s historic environment. The report focuses on conservation areas, of which there are over 10,000 in England, to mark the 50th anniversary of their introduction under the 1967 Civic Amenities Act and understand the extent to which they have changed over time. The report finds that:
6.8m people, or 12.5% of the population, live in a conservation area.
These are popular with the public with 74% of adults, and 83% in conservation areas believing that local authorities should be able to restrict changes to building and streets to retain local character.
There are higher property prices in conservation areas, but research suggests this is due to the state of housing stock, rather than the designation itself. There are lower prices and higher unemployment in conservation areas at risk. Conservation areas are not a serious barrier to growth: there are 5.1% new builds inside conservation areas compared to 6.7% nationally.
The report also gives a general overview of the sector in 2017, pointing to both successes such as the launch of Heritage Action Zones and difficulties due to the decline in the number of historic environment specialists. The Heritage Sector has been working collaboratively to assess the impact of Brexit on its work. It found that £450m of EU funds were invested in the sector from 2007-16, with effects that included the removal of 820 Scheduled Monuments from the Heritage at Risk register. £89m of EU funding has also been invested in historic environment research in the period. EU nationals are well represented in the workforce including 15% of those in archaeology. The sector has also developed a more joined up approach to deterring heritage crime, and is evolving training placements for people from BME backgrounds. A new project provisionally entitled 'Another England' will deepen understanding of how BME people have helped shape the heritage of the country. Historic England
DCMS has published its annual statistics on the 15 museums which it sponsors directly. Figures show:
There were 47.3m visits in 2016–17, down 0.8% from the previous year.
16% of visits were by children under 16 and 47% by overseas visitors.
The museums self-generated £298m, a similar figure to 2015–16.
The Tate Gallery group was the most visited, with 8.4m, up 27% from 6.7m the previous year, driven by the opening of the Blavatnik building. This figure means it overtakes the British Museum (down 9%). Visitor figures also grew at the National Gallery (5%) and National Museums Liverpool (7%) and Soane and Geffrye Museums (both 2%) but all other museums saw declines of between 4–14%.
There were 7.5m child visits, down 0.3m or 6% compared to the previous year.
The report also tracked how many UK venues DCMS museums loaned collections to during the year. There were 1,356 loan venues, down 2% from 2015–16.
Anglo-Saxon grave that 'rewrites history' among 2016 Treasure Finds
DCMS has published statistics for 2015 treasure finds, and provisional figures for 2016. There were 1005 finds in 2015 and 1120 in 2016, with 96% being located by metal detectors. The greatest concentration of finds was in Norfolk and Suffolk. 205 objects were acquired, and 78 were donated to museums, allowing them to be acquired at no or reduced public cost. Among the finds was the 7th century grave of a young woman in Norfolk, described as 'one of those rare finds which really does rewrite history' as there was no previous record of an Anglo-Saxon settlement. An ornamented cross suggests that she was one of the earliest converts to Christianity. Guardian, Gov.uk
Strong private philanthropy but declining public support in latest Arts Index
The Campaign for the Arts has published the third issue of its periodic Arts Index, which draws together statistics for the sector from 2007 to the present to assess its health. The previous index was published in 2013. Findings include:
Overall the index, which draws on twenty measures, has gone up by two points from 104 to 106 since the last issue. This is largely due to private philanthropy.
Drawing from three years of ACE’s Private Investment data, business contributions are down by 20% in 2014–15.
Local government funding continues to sharply decline, down by a third since 2007–8.
Public support for funding arts through taxation is also down: from a majority in 2009–10 to 37% in 2015–16.
By contrast, individual giving is up, with a ‘huge surge’ of philanthropy in 2014–15. This coincided with ACE’s Catalyst programme which may have been a factor.
Lottery funding being drawn down by ACE is up. However, actual ticket sales fell by 9% in 2016–17, which may eventually make ACE’s core portfolio vulnerable as it is now partly supported by Lottery sales.
The report notes that the size of audiences and participants has barely changed despite large recent cuts to the sector. It says: “with such big cuts having such little impact on engagement with the arts, are concerns about the future of our world-leading creative sector justified? We think so. We believe there are two reasons why the arts sector has not contracted despite this massive withdrawal of public investment: an increase in earned income by arts organisations and more receipts from the national lottery. Both may be unsustainable.” The Campaign for the Arts also points out that ticket prices have risen well above inflation, risking a ‘gentrification’ of the arts that only some can afford. Campaign for the Arts
Review of the ‘awareness and effectiveness’ of charity trustees published
DCMS has published the report ‘Taken on Trust’ which explores the demographics of charity trustees, and their level of effectiveness. It finds that:
There are 700,000 trustees in the UK, two thirds of whom are male, with an average age of 55–64, or older for smaller charities. 92% are white.
Most (93%) regard their role as ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to them, devote just under 5 hours a week to their role and give time worth £3.5bn each year.
The report does not specifically mention museums, but comparison with ACE figures shows that arts trustees are significantly more diverse than charities in general: 14% in arts charities are BME compared to an 8% average; 47% are women (cf. 36% average).
Recommendations from the report include more publicity for the benefits that trustees bring to national life, and encouraging a more diverse group of people to become involved. The Charity Commission and other skilled bodies should help charities evolve a digital strategy; and offer more support for charities to look at the skills gaps in their Boards. Charities should give email addresses for all trustees to the Charity Commission, and those with a turnover of over £500k should report on board diversity each year. Arts Professional, Gov.uk (full report)
ACE announces ten new members for its National Council
Arts Council England has announced ten new members of its National Council, who will join over the next few months. The new appointments mean that there will be gender parity, and a greater age range among Council members, the youngest of whom is 26. Sir Nicholas Serota said "we, and our sector must continually challenge ourselves about who is representing the public on the boards of organisations so we can be confident we understand the interests of contemporary society." ACE
Museums reaching whole communities: record figures in Edinburgh and Manchester
Two NMDC member museums have reported significant rises in visitor numbers. The National Museum of Scotland attracted two million visitors for the first time, tripling the number of visitors compared to a decade ago when its major redevelopment began. The museum is now the most popular outside London.
Manchester Museum has also crossed a significant boundary, receiving half a million visitors in the last year, a rise from 160,000 visitors a decade ago. The museum bucks the national trend by attracting a far more socially representative visitor group than average: almost 50% are from C2DE backgrounds, 25% are BME and 10% come from some of the most socially deprived areas in Manchester. Director Dr Nick Merriman said “the whole Museum team has worked very hard over the last decade to support the University’s Social Responsibility agenda by both increasing and broadening our audiences. It is very pleasing that the figures are showing what progress we have made.”BBC
Factories in space, cleaning the oceans (and folding the odd towel)
The V&A has revealed some of the content for its 2018 temporary exhibition ‘The Future Starts Here’ which addresses the successes and failures of technologies still in development, and imagines the world we will inhabit in coming decades. V&A curators Rory Hyde and Mariana Pestana spent two and a half years scouring the world in ‘design laboratories, universities and private companies’ for still-emerging ideas. There is material for optimists, such as technology to clean up the planet, and an emphasis on extending into space (using objects such as Nasa’s orbital gravity printer, which could be used in an orbiting factory). There will also be 3D prints of Chelsea Manning, produced only from an analysis of her DNA, and designs for a hovering solar powered aircraft currently being constructed in a hangar in Somerset. The exhibition also acknowledges the slow and less immediately successful aspects of new development: a robot designed to fold towels currently takes 15 minutes to do one. Director Tristram Hunt said the exhibition “explores groundbreaking emerging technologies and the way they will affect our lives in the near future and, crucially, the collective choices we have to influence their progress.” V&A, Guardian
Science fictions and science futures at the Horniman
The Horniman Museum has appointed Dr Dan Byrne Smith, a senior lecturer at Chelsea College of Arts to its first three-year fellowship in Museum Art, Design and Natural History. Dan will be looking at natural history collections through the lens of science fiction, and explore how this throws lights on real world problems, especially the changing climate. Since its roots with H. G. Wells, Mary Shelley and Jules Verne, sci-fi has often explored how humans fit in the natural world. Dan hopes the project will reach new audiences ‘outside the lecture theatre’. Horniman
NB: NMDC will be publishing a list of member highlights for 2018 early in the new year. We will be asking NMDC member press offices to send 3–4 events and exhibitions for inclusion to [email protected].
Christmas quiz: solve conundrums from Art Detective
Images this month are of paintings from NMDC museums which are featured on Art Detective because there are questions about the sitter, the artist or the work still to be solved. Do join the conversation if you have a suggestion or an answer to one of these problems.
Art Detective is ArtUK’s free-to-use discussion website, putting public art collections in touch with providers of specialist knowledge. Where a collection holder would like to canvas opinions, topics are opened up on the site’s public forums. Anyone can submit information and suggestions, and the collection holder can then decide if it agrees. There have been 300 public discussions since 2014, with over half of all questions being solved by the community, casting new lights on people, places and events depicted. Museums with material on ArtUK may find that helpful suggestions about works are already on Art Detective; museums with ‘mystery paintings’ in their collections are encouraged to add them to the site. Email [email protected] if you would like to access your museum’s account. Art Detective, Art Detective (browse new discoveries)
The ArtUK online art platform is now home to 3,250 collections from across the UK. It is an increasingly useful tool for showcasing art to a global audience, with 50% of traffic now coming from overseas, and some previously ‘invisible’ collections receiving interest and requests to borrow from international museums for the first time. The site shows not only artworks in museums but also in universities, hospitals, local authority buildings and from likes of the National Trust and Government Art Collection. Most of the small and medium sized-collections on the site would not be able to show their art online without using the Art UK infrastructure.
The site is also piloting a shop allowing partner collections to generate commercial income from prints and other merchandise. 200,000 works, mostly paintings, will shortly be joined by 170,000 sculptures in public ownership, with the first being added to the site early next year. ArtUK, ArtUK (shop), ArtUK (partner collections), ArtUK (sculpture project)
ACE publishes new guide to the Acceptance in Lieu scheme
ACE has published a new guide to the Acceptance in Lieu scheme, which allows those with a liability for inheritance tax or estate duty to settle using heritage property. The report describes which kinds of property can be offered, and the benefits to the owner and the receiving cultural bodies. Over the previous six years, the scheme has brought objects worth almost £250m into public ownership. The brief guide will be useful to convey the essentials of the scheme to owners and museums. A similar document also exists for the Cultural Gifts Scheme. ACE (AiL), ACE (Cultural Gifts)
Acceptance in lieu returns portraits to Walpole’s home after 170 years
A group of 27 Walpole family portraits and other items have been accepted from the 10th Baron Walpole in lieu of tax. The collection has been allocated to the Strawberry Hill Collection Trust. Strawberry Hill House was built by gothic novelist Horace Walpole, but virtually emptied of all its contents by auction in 1842. The Trust is gradually restoring the fabric and reacquiring objects, with ambitions to return the building to its pre-auction state. ACE, Strawberry Hill Trust
Also: Culture Minister John Glen has placed an export bar on a rare annotated version of Ben Johnson’s ‘The Silent Woman’. It is the only known example showing how a play by Johnson was prepared for performance. The asking price is £48k, with an export bar in place until 5th February, with a possible extension to 5th May. Gov.uk
There were a few items relevant to culture in the Budget this year. These included:
Funding to DCMS increases slightly from £1.4bn to £1.5bn.
Further local government cuts, reducing spending from £6.7bn in 2017–18 to £5.6bn in 2019–20.
£2m for a Cultural Development Fund administered by DCMS. It is unclear whether this is the full extent of the Fund, or seed money to develop a larger programme. The fund will support towns and cities to create culture-led growth strategies.
Individual cultural projects include £668k in LIBOR banking fines for the Lincolnshire Bomber Command Memorial and £4m for Jodrell Bank, the space observatory which is seeking World Heritage Site status.
Supporting documents also reveal that £1.2m of £5m announced in the Spring budget for events celebrating a century of women’s suffrage will go to seven cities with strong links to the story, although there are no details yet about how to apply.
The Chancellor also agreed that there is ‘merit’ in a review of the complexities of the VAT system in the longer term.
Gift Aid donor benefit rules will be simplified, with thresholds being reduced from three to two. This change will be rolled out in April 2018.
The Cultural Industries Federation said the Budget was ‘disappointing’ and ‘a missed chance to invest in the UK’s fastest growing sector’. It added that the creative industries are rapidly creating jobs but face a severe skills shortage. However, it welcomed the inclusion of the sector in the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The Local Government Association said that further cuts to budgets would do ‘nothing to ease the financial crisis’ in local government services, and warned of the knock on effect on cultural and other services. It said “almost 60p in every £1 that people pay in council tax could have to be spent caring for children and adults by 2020, leaving increasingly less to fund other services, like fixing potholes, cleaning streets and running leisure centres and libraries.” AIM, Heritage Alliance, Museums Journal, Arts Professional, CIF
Also: Creative Industries figures for 2016 show that the sector is worth £92bn, a growth of £7bn since the previous year, and twice the growth rate of the rest of the economy. Gov.uk
The Musuems and Galleries Exhibitions Tax Relief has now passed into law. Claims for tax relief for new exhibitions can be backdated to April 2017. The relief applies to new exhibitions whether temporary, permanent or touring, and is capped at £500k of qualifying expenditure per exhibitions. ACE will shortly be publishing further details of how to apply. ACE, Gov.uk (Finance Bill relevant passage)
King’s College London has published a report ‘The art of soft power’ looking at the uses of culture by diplomats based at the UN Office in Geneva. Soft power can range from attempts to positively influence a nation with cultural messages, to interventions in private, often highly charged political situations. Although broadly speaking ‘soft power’ is ‘standing out’ and showcasing a nation’s brand and ‘cultural diplomacy’ is ‘reaching out’ to find common political ground, in practice diplomats use the terms fairly interchangeably. There is very little formal evaluation as measurement is difficult in such circumstances, but nearly all of those interviewed were strongly convinced that culture was helpful, even in situations where progress is ‘glacial’ and two sides might take a year to broker a political meeting. One interviewee argued “once you open somebody’s mind, it’s easier to put other stuff there.” The report also looked at how cultural products worked across countries with very different social norms, finding the right note to strike where “one person’s masterpiece can be another’s blasphemy”. Sometimes culture can be used or perceived as a coded aggression. Predominantly though, cultural activity is valued as a basis for developing friendships, for finding common ground and as a relatively ‘soft’ backdrop assisting the sophisticated rituals of diplomacy. As one participant commented “you can disagree on Crimea, on Georgia, but we all like Chekhov”. King’s College, Arts Journal, Taitmail
Also: Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has indicated that he would like to see the UK continue to be part of Creative Europe after Brexit, following a question by Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson. They Work For You
The European Commission has cancelled the UK’s turn as host as European Capital of Culture in 2023, because it is leaving the EU. In December 2016, the UK government said that the bidding process would run as normal, although ‘subject to’ the Brexit negotiations. Five cities invested their own money and that of sponsors: Leeds has spent £1m over four years, and the Dundee team was days away from coming to London to make its pitch. DCMS said it is in ‘urgent discussions’ about the decision, adding "we disagree with the European Commission's stance and are deeply disappointed that it has waited until after UK cities have submitted their final bids before communicating this new position to us," Fifteen MPs representing constituencies in the cities have also appealed to Jean-Claude Junker. An EC spokesperson said that given the UK will leave the EU in 2019 “we believe it makes common sense to discontinue the selection process now." The British Council has commented regretting the decision and pointing to a concerted effort across Europe to keep cultural ties alive as the UK moves towards Brexit. It added: “there is real desire on both sides to maintain multilateral programmes in education, science arts and culture. Earlier this year more than 500 leaders from across Europe endorsed our recommendations for continued cooperation in these spheres, which were delivered to negotiators on both sides.” Meanwhile The Times supported a call from broadcaster Melvyn Bragg to pick a winning city and ‘party alone’. BBC, Museums Journal, British Council, GQ, The Times (paywall)
Also: The UK website of the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage has now been launched. It is seeking organisations across the UK to participate by holding events showcasing European links. European Heritage
Leave or remain: mixed reports on visas for foreign nationals in the cultural sector
The Government has announced that it will double the number of visas available to people who lead their field or show exceptional promise in the fields of technology, science, art and creative industries. This is in line with Creative Industries Federation advocacy for greater mobility of creatives in its recent Global Talent Report. There will now be 2,000 Tier One visas available each year. However, visas are being refused for foreign academics married to British citizens. The Guardian reports that Jennifer Wexler, a US academic who has worked at the British Museum for four years, has been refused indefinite leave to remain. The newspaper reports that time spent outside the UK can be used to deny settlement visas, although this travel is often essential to academic research. Gov.uk, Guardian
‘Creativity is the fuel of the 21st century’: 20 years of creative industries
John Newbigin has written a history of twenty years of the creative industries, how the term has been adopted globally, its increasing significance as a ‘harbinger of a new economic order’, a business success and a source of work in an approaching age of robots. British Council
As the Louvre, Abu Dhabi opens, a three-minute time lapse film has been released showing its creation over an eight-year period from 2009 – 2017. The 23-gallery building is covered by a 180-metre dome made of 8000 overlapping metal stars in a geometric pattern, shot through with desert light. The surroundings of the museum have been flooded with water, so the building appears to be encircled by sea. Louvre Director Jean-Luc Martinez described the new museum as “the most important cultural project of the 21st century… [it responds to] the challenge for the Louvre… to understand other civilisations and cultures, and not from a European point of view.” However, questions remain about the welfare of the migrant workers who built the edifice. Dezeen, The Art Newspaper, The Art Newspaper (three minute film), Telegraph
The Working Internationally Conference 2018 will take place at the National Museum of Scotland on 7th March 2018. The programme is still being finalised, but includes international and national speakers discussing international programmes in their countries. There will also be a session on funding options open to UK museums. Tickets are £75, but staff from NMDC member organisations will receive a discounted rate of £49. Student tickets are £25. ICOM
Materials for museums to get involved in Holocaust Memorial Day
Holocaust Memorial Day takes place on 27th January 2018 and the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust has produced free guides and resources for museums and galleries interested in marking the event. The theme for 2018 is ‘the power of words’. Activity packs are available including posters for display and a further guide to the theme. There are examples of museum activities including art, sewing, performance and spoken word events. HMD, HMD (order or download activity pack), HMD (museum resources by UK country)
Let’s Get Real 6: digital social purpose in museums
Culture24 is launching its sixth in-depth course for museums on making effective use of digital. ‘Let’s Get Real 6: understanding digital social purpose for museums’ looks at how to achieve greater social purpose and work more closely with communities and target audiences through digital work. Partners include Battersea Arts Centre and the Happy Museum. The course runs for nine months from January – October 2018, and participation costs range from £1450 – 2950 (+VAT) depending on organisation size. There are also two £150 subsidised places for very small organisations that would not otherwise to be able to take part. The deadline for application is 8th December. Culture24
The theme of the Wales Museum Conference 2018 is museum activism. The conference will explore whether museums should be more proactive in an era of fake news, and how museums are already addressing topics such as migration, sustainability and inequality through their programming. Welsh Federation members have priority booking until January 9th, after which others will be able to apply. The conference takes place at Cardiff Story Museum on 15th March 2018. Contact [email protected] for a booking form.
The Creative Industries Federation will be holding a conference on Brexit and the creative Industries on 15th March 2018. It will offer ‘business critical insights’ into the state of the negotiations, and the problems and opportunities in consequence. Early bird tickets are £70 + VAT for members, and £400 + VAT for non-members. CIF
There will be a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London and Windsor on 16th – 20th April 2018. Museums are invited to hold Commonwealth-themed events in the run up to the meeting, which may be featured on a dedicated website from January. Email [email protected] by 12th December if you already have an event suitable for inclusion. There will be a similar events programme across the Commonwealth. Museums are also invited to follow the project on twitter @Commonwealth18 and on Facebook at /Commonwealth2018. CHOGM2018
The Museums and Resilient Leadership programme is a year-long course supported by ACE and run from the Black Country Living Museum. Study includes a five-day overseas trip to the country of your choice to explore international approaches to museum work, six days of residential workshops, masterclasses on leadership, governance and finance, online support and a mentor. ACE invests £7.5k per participant, hence the fee for those selected is just £795 + VAT. The deadline for applications is 31st January 2018. Museum Resilience
Would you like a website linking academics and museums?
The Museum University Partnership Initiative has launched a survey to find out if it would be useful to create a website linking museums and academics. It takes two minutes to fill in. Focus groups are also discussing the subject this week: contact [email protected] for a more in-depth conversation. MUPI
Culture Now: change network for early to mid-career professionals
A network has been developing over the last year for early to mid-career museum professionals who are interested in challenging established thinking. Culture Now is funded by Museum Development North West and East Midlands, but with the intention of creating a nationwide network. The group is on twitter @_CultureNow. Culture Now
Review of the National Strategy for Scotland's Museums
Museums Galleries Scotland is evaluating its 2012 strategy for Scotland's museums, and is seeking views. It is happy to have more than one response per museum. The deadline for responses is 26th January. MGS
Emma Chaplin has been appointed the new Director of the Association of Independent Museums. She is currently a consultant in the sector and will take up the post next February. AIM
Judith Owens has become new Chief Executive of Titanic Belfast. ALVA
Tim Knox has been appointed the new Director of the Royal Collections Trust. He will be leaving the Fitzwilliam Museum, where he has been Director since 2013, to take up the post in the New Year. Fitzwilliam
Creative & Cultural Skills has launched its Annual Awards, which reward individuals who have shown ‘outstanding commitment to skill development and learning’ in the Creative Industries. Nine categories include craft, theatre, intern of the year and a Museums and Heritage Skills Award. The deadline for entries is 15th December. Winners will be announced at an award ceremony in Salford next April. C&CS (entry form)
The Association of Cultural Enterprises has launched its annual awards for products designed for and sold in shops attached to cultural venues. Last year the winner was The Hepworth Wakefield for products complementing a Martin Parr exhibition. Ten categories for the 2018 award include best guidebook and best new children’s product, as well as new categories for shops and cafes. The deadline for entries is 22nd December. Association for Cultural Enterprises
Eleven bids to the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund
Local Enterprise Partnerships representing eleven cities and regions across the north of England have made bids for a share of the £15m Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund. The fund was launched to complement the Great Exhibition of the North in Newcastle-Gateshead next year. Bids include:
Cheshire and Warrington want to build a cultural centre for young people and their families in Ellesmere Port.
Cumbria seeks to make capital investment in several sites including Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum and Abbot Hall Art Gallery and Museum.
A bid towards funding the Amuseum in Blackpool (details below).
A bid by Liverpool City Region to build on the success of Eureka! The National Children’s Museum in Halifax by creating Eureka! Merseyside.
A railway heritage quarter in Tees Valley.
Landmark light installations in six places across the North Yorkshire coast.
Successful projects will be announced in March next year. Gov.uk
Revised plans for Blackpool combine museum with visitor attractions
Blackpool Council has evolved revised plans for a museum in the city, after initial plans for a £26m redevelopment of the Winter Gardens site fell through. The revised proposal, called Amuseum will combine aspects of a museum with visitor attractions, encompassing film, artefacts, music and performance. The V&A is among the partners which plan to display collections at the site; temporary exhibitions will cover local themes and national popular culture. The new plans will cost £10.4m. Museums Journal
Courtauld Institute of Art to close for two-year redevelopment
The galleries at the Courtauld Institute of Art will close for two years from summer 2018 for major £50m redevelopment. Work includes removing temporary walls from the Great Room on the second floor to restore a sense of its huge space. The Institute itself will remain open for study and research. The Art Newspaper, Guardian
Also: A £30m project to redevelop Aberdeen Art Gallery has been delayed by around a year due to ‘complications’ in work on the late Victorian building. Museums Journal
Museums working with Business Improvement Districts
A new report ‘Improving Places’ looks at the relationship between Business Improvement Districts (BIDS) and cultural bodies. Commissioned by ACE and the Mayor of London, and researched by King’s College, it gives several examples of museums working with BIDS:
After Derby BID rebranded the area north of the city centre the Cathedral Quarter it worked with numerous arts bodies including Derby Museums Trust and 14 – 18 NOW to build a reputation as a cultural destination. The project led to a rise in takings for local businesses, and Derby won Great British High Street of the Year in 2016.
Norwich Castle and Museum was among the organisations working with Norwich BID as it evolved its very successful ‘Norwich, the City of Stories’ campaign, which looked at 900 years of the city’s literary heritage. The BID now leads on destination marketing for the city.
Colmore Business District in Birmingham invested £25k in Mat Collishaw’s VR artwork ‘Thresholds’ at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery after a previous outdoor photography project had substantial local traction.
Columns of light shrouded in darkness as the Mithraeum rises again
A small museum on the site of the Roman Temple of Mithras has now opened beneath the new Bloomberg building in London. The London Mithraeum includes 600 of the artefacts dug up by Museum of London Archaeology, including the earliest dated piece of writing from London: a financial record from January 57AD. Beneath, there is a pared down temple space, where the lost architecture is conveyed by sound, light and haze. Jake Barton of exhibition designers Local Projects said “being able to stand inside of that Mithraeum, with the walls being created around you, listening to the ritual, gets people activated and engaged because they’re somehow projecting themselves into the space and projecting themselves into that time.”Dezeen, London Mithraeum
New cultural quarters and extended museum opening hours in ‘pro-culture’ London plan
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has published a draft London Plan, which gives an overall planning strategy for the capital. He describes it as ‘the most pro-culture London Plan of any Mayor’. It aims to reverse a situation which has seen London lose 25% of its pubs, 40% of music venues, half of all nightclubs and 58% of LGBT venues in a decade. A third of all affordable creative workspace is also projected to be lost without intervention. Plans include:
Creating Creative Enterprise Zones with affordable workspaces and support for small business and skills development. London boroughs will be able to bid for central funds to support these designated areas.
Enhancing and creating cultural quarters, where restaurants and bars will sit beside cultural venues. Boroughs will be asked to support cultural pop-ups in empty buildings.
Developers must build adequately soundproofed buildings, so residents and pubs or music venues do not clash. Boroughs will refuse applications from developers who do not manage noise impact.
Every borough is being asked to develop a plan for night-time activity, including exploring extended opening hours for museums, galleries and libraries.
Boroughs should also consider whether their plans serve all Londoners, including young people, BAME and LGBT groups.
Deputy Mayor for Culture Justine Simons said “this London Plan puts culture right at its heart, ensuring it is hardwired into all aspects of civic planning.”London.gov
Museums are stewards safeguarding collections and heritage for the future, but are working in the context of unprecedented climate change and environmental degradation. Julie’s Bicycle has published a Museums Environmental Framework, with support from ACE, exploring the purpose of heritage in these circumstances, and how museums can embed sustainability and raise public awareness through events and exhibitions. The report first offers a flow chart of how environmentalism can be embedded in a museum – from core values to governance, communications, exhibitions and audiences, and then offers a series of exemplars. Many museums are already offering useful case studies:
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums designed a sustainable transport campaign for audiences; ‘Play & Invent’ museum activities using recycling in construction; and staff engagement campaigns such as Green Office Week.
The Green Museums Scotland campaign will help participating museums across the Highlands to achieve major carbon reduction.
Manchester Museums' permanent collections invite visitors to look at their attitudes to and values about nature, with themes such as ‘After the Bees’ and ‘Extinction or Survival’. It is hosting a major conference on museums and environment in 2018.
Leeds Museums & Galleries has worked with local people on events exploring fuel poverty, and is partnering on a gardening for good mental health project.
All gallery staff at the Whitworth have committed to two days of sustainability work each year, and it has a number of posts dedicated to ‘greening’ the museum.
Finally, the report puts museums’ work into the context of existing standards and treaties – from the Paris Agreement, to national legislation, to standards and reports from cultural and energy bodies. Julie’s Bicycle
Also: Two archaeological bodies have written a briefing note to the government arguing that the current EU (Withdrawal) Bill weakens the UK’s environmental protections. It says that the ‘precautionary’ principle and concept that the ‘polluter pays’ have underpinned commercial archaeology since 1990 and should be retained. Archaeology UK
Julie’s Bicycle has also produced its annual report on the work of museums, particularly NPOs, to reduce their environmental impact.
Emissions by museums are down 17% in 2016 – 17 compared to the previous year.
NPOs have saved £11m since 2012 – 13 through environmental interventions.
82% of NPOs find their environmental policy useful in supporting funding applications.
Julie’s Bicycle and ACE invite museums to join the conversation about culture and climate on twitter under the hashtag #COPtimism. They hope the campaign will show how culture can reduce the sense of detachment about green issues and build on the optimism of the Paris Agreement. Julie’s Bicycle, The Ecologist, ACE
Natural History Museum to evict its Plastic Population
Over the next few months the Natural History Museum will stop selling one-use plastic bottles at South Kensington and Tring, instead installing water fountains and selling reusable bottles. The decision aligns with scientific research, some of it carried out by NHM itself, showing the ubiquity of plastics in the environment. NHM’s Director of Science, Professor Ian Owens said “it's vital that scientific institutions like the Museum lead the way in the fight to understand and protect the natural world. The scale of ongoing plastic pollution is having a devastating effect on many marine species and the ecosystems that sustain life on Earth.” NHM
World Cities report: using culture to address climate change
The World Cities Culture Forum has published a new report assessing how forty cities across the globe have used culture to address climate change. ‘Culture and Climate Change’ was published in consultation with Julie’s Bicycle. Examples in the report focus on:
How the cultural sector in world cities can lead by example by becoming greener
How culture can be used for public engagement
Cultural involvement in greener infrastructure development.
The report describes how ‘Green Guides’ were developed in London to engage the cultural industries in environmental issues. Current projects include LA Water, which introduced 15 site specific installations into the Los Angeles Public Art Biennial to begin public discussion about the city’s water issues. Julie’s Bicycle
Small grants for museums participating in the BBC Civilisations Festival
The Art Fund is offering grants of up to £1k for public engagement activities by museums participating in the BBC’s Civilisations Festival. The festival takes place from 2nd – 11th March next year (with activities likely to spill into surrounding weeks). Projects are welcomed which explore the theme of Civilisations in reference to a museum’s collections and are innovative compared to the host museum’s current offer. The deadline for applications is 14th December, and successful applicants will hear by 22nd January. Art Fund
Recipients of Moving Image art funding money announced
The Art Fund has announced the recipients of support from its Moving Image Fund, which helps museums and galleries collect and share work by contemporary artists in digital media, video and film. Bristol Museum & Art Gallery and the Hunterian in Glasgow will each receive £200k to build collections. The funding is not predicated on choosing any particular works, and the museums will decide what to purchase over the next two years. Art Fund
Also: Evaluation shows that the Heritage Alliance’s ‘Giving to Heritage’ training programme has enabled people involved in heritage organisations to raise £3.15m in new funds. The programme, which was a partnership with the Institute of Fundraising, also measurably raised confidence and capacity building across the heritage sector. Heritage Alliance
The ‘Archives Revealed’ programme is a partnership between the National Archives and Pilgrim Trust offering the only funding stream in the UK dedicated to cataloguing and unlocking archives. Applications for cataloguing grants of up to £40k are open until 12th January. There are scoping grants of up to £3k available to conduct analysis to underpin future work. The scoping grant fund opens in February 2018. National Archives
A group of academics and art historians led by Dr Bendor Grosvenor is challenging the right of museums to charge for the use of photographs of objects which are themselves out of copyright. In a letter to The Times the group claims that the fees ‘pose a serious threat to art history’. Legal opinion is divided, and the UK’s current interpretation of the European Court of Justice’s copyright ruling has not been tested in court. Grosvenor, who presents the BBC’s ‘Britain’s Lost Masterpieces’ says “a large part of the budget for arts programmes is taken up by reproduction fees”. Simon Stokes author of ‘Art and Copyright’ is among the lawyers sympathetic to the need of museums to generate income in a time of austerity. He says “the important thing is for the fees to be reasonable in light of promoting scholarship.” The Times (paywall), The Art Newspaper, The Art Newspaper