Temperate House reopening in the spring at Kew Gardens after £41m restoration
The Temperate House at Kew Gardens, which is the largest surviving glasshouse from the Victorian period, will reopen in May after a £41m restoration. All the glass has been replaced, as well as corroded ironwork and rotted timbers. The extent of the work was partly due to Victorian cost-cutting, after the original build, begun in 1860, ran vastly over budget and took 40 years to complete. Some plants which have outgrown the space have been replaced by smaller specimens, others can now survive outside because of the changing climate. Other rarities, including Encephalartos woodii, which is extinct in the wild, remain carefully preserved beside new plantings. Scott Taylor, who supervises the Temperate House told the Guardian“we are planting now for 25, 50, 75 years ahead – that’s what lets me get to sleep at night, that we are planting for the future.” The Guardian, Kew Gardens
V&A lays plans for new Collections Research Centre in East London
The V&A is making plans to turn the former Olympic Broadcasting Centre in Olympic Park, Stratford into a new £25m collections and research centre, which will be open to the public. The centre will store most of the collections currently held at Blythe House, following a government decision to sell that property. The V&A is now seeking an architect to develop the building and approval from ministers before going ahead. The development will complement the V&A’s museum outpost on the same site, due for completion around 2020 – 21. Museums Journal
Peter Jackson to create film from IWM archival holdings
Lord of the Rings film-maker Peter Jackson is making a documentary about the First World War using footage drawn from IWM’s archives. The footage will be restored to look as if ‘shot last week, not 100 years ago’ and will appear beside interviews with veterans recorded over the last century. The result will be shown on BBC One and in schools. Jackson said “We are not making the usual film you’d expect on the First World War – we’re making a film which shows this incredible footage in which the faces of these men just jump out at you. It’s the human beings who were actually there, who were thrust into this extraordinary situation that defined their lives in many cases.” The commission is part of the final year of the 14 – 18 NOW programme, which will also include multimedia work by William Kentridge at Tate Modern and a commission from Katrina Palmer, ‘The Coffin Jump’ at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, celebrating new freedoms women gained during the First World War. 14 – 18 NOW, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Evening Standard
Government acquires catering and events arm of Royal Armouries
DCMS has reached an agreement to buy out Royal Armouries plc, which generates profit through events, catering and car parking. The £11.2m acquisition will allow the Royal Armouries Museum to run the trading and museum aspects as one concern, in line with a successful model used by other DCMS-sponsored national museums. Gov.uk
Also: TheNew York Times has named the Horniman Museum & Gardens fifth in its list of the ‘ten coolest museums in the world’ for children. The museum appears alongside the International Spy Museum in Washington DC and Lego House in Billund, Denmark. The Indy Channel
Images this month hightlight some of the new exhibitions and gallery openings taking place at NMDC museums during 2018. The Temperate House opens at Kew Gardens in May; 'The Square Box on the Hill' tells the story of Norwich Castle through 900 years and its identities as palace, prison and museum; the new Exploration Wing, designed by Casson Mann will be opening at the National Maritime Museum including galleries describing Pacific Encounters, Polar Worlds, Tudor and Stuart Seafarers, and Sea Things; 'Queens of Industry' at Leeds Industrial Museum describes how working class women achieved fame as elected 'Queens', representing some of the country's great industries. A longer list of NMDC highlight events will be published shortly.
Erratum: Last month we said that 'Michael Jackson: On the Wall' will be showing at the National Gallery, in fact it will be at the National Portrait Gallery from 28th June. NPG
Arts Council England has announced the development funding schemes open to arts organisations and museums for the period 2018–22. These include:
£97.3m per year for Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants (formerly ‘Grants for the Arts’). These will be open to museums, libraries, arts organisations and artists for individual projects. £14m will be reserved for projects over £100k. Application guidelines will be published on 14th February.
ACE’s Strategic funds will be renamed ‘development funds’ to reflect the emphasis on diversity, resilience and innovation in business models. The fund will be worth £72.2m each year, down from £118.4m, which was the size of the fund it replaced.
There will be £37m over four years for Creative People and Places, aimed at areas with historically low levels of arts engagement.
There will be one £30m round of large capital funding in 2020 - 21, and a pot of £44m available for small capital funding over the period 2018 - 22.
The PRISM fund, which offered grants of £500 - £20k to conserve science and technology collections has closed. The Strategic Touring Fund, which spent £35m in 2015 – 18 (mostly used by performing arts groups) has also closed.
Declining receipts from the National Lottery have reduced ACE’s funds: it received £227.4m in 2016–17, down £40.9m on 2015–16, and £21.6m less than forecast last year. ACE, Museums Journal
HMRC publishes guidance for Museums and Galleries Exhibition Tax Relief
HMRC has published a detailed manual explaining how museums and galleries can apply for the new exhibition tax relief. Details include:
It introduces the concept of 'primary' and 'secondary' production companies, so that a venue hosting an exhibition which it did not originate has a path to claiming relief.
It lists exclusions such as exhibitions held in connection with a competition, where artworks are for sale, where there is live performance (unless incidental instead of central) or where anything live is displayed.
Rules for touring exhibitions include continuous display of at least 25% of the objects at every venue, and no more than a six month gap between venues.
The costs of the eligible exhibition must be separated out from other venue expenditure, and there is a detailed list of what is and is not eligible for relief.
Claim forms, losses, expenditure and eligible companies are also dealt with in detail.
Arts Council England is offering briefing sessions for museums and galleries seeking support to understand and benefit from the scheme. Demand is expected to be high so only one person will be able to attend per organisation. Briefings will be taking place throughout March in cities from Brighton to Newcastle. Gov.uk (guidance), Gov.uk (creative industries overview), ACE (guidance) ACE (to book a briefing session)
The Museums Association has published the results of its annual museums survey. It received 308 responses covering 435 institutions, which represents around 17% of the country’s museums. The mix of venues is broadly representative of the sector as a whole. The MA comments that the results “reveal… a sector that is in many ways flourishing, while some museums face serious problems. Visitor numbers are growing, public-facing work remains strong and there is an increasing focus on positively impacting people’s lives. But equally, many museums face reduced public funding, loss of staff and maintenance backlogs – with the uncertainty of Brexit hanging over everything.” Figures include:
47% of museums have increased visitor numbers in the last year with 19% showing no change.
60% have maintained their current rate of temporary exhibitions; 25% report an increase.
77% of museums work with schools and 74% with community groups. Work with groups less likely to visit a museum is also high: 46% of respondents are working with health and wellbeing providers and 47% with disabled people’s groups. 23% are programming with BAME communities, and nearly a fifth with environmental and LGBTQ groups.
The survey in part bears out the narrative of the Thurley and Mendoza reviews with museums transitioning to a more diversified commercial income to replace diminishing government funds. 37% of museums had an increase in income from all sources, while 35% remained the same. 30% saw a drop in regular public funding. Meanwhile 46% had an increase in revenue from cafes and shops, compared to 19% which reported a decline.
However, overall income declined at 26% of museums, and these were most likely to be local authority museums (39%) or former local authority museums (54%).
While the workforce remains steady at other types of museums, there are signs of shrinking at local authority museums where 34% say full time staff numbers have decreased and only 6% report growth.
Museums Galleries Scotland has published the recipients of £200k in support from the latest round of its Museums Development Fund. These range from £32k for the redisplay of locomotives at National Mining Museum Scotland, £58k for boat restoration at the Scottish Fisheries Museum Trust and £58k for the Dundee Heritage Trust to appoint a new officer to engage audiences in new galleries, and work with V&A Dundee. The deadline to apply for the next round of funding is 27th April. MGS (new round), M + H
M+H has published an overview of the major museum openings and re-openings in 2018 in the UK and across the world, with V&A Dundee and 'Being Brunel' prominent on the UK list. Elsewhere:
The Grand Museum of Egypt will be the largest museum of Egyptian artefacts in the world and is expected to receive five million visitors initially. It will have extensive gardens with a view of the Pyramids of Giza.
The Museum of Sound and Image (MIS) in Rio de Janeiro opens in September on Copacabana beach, with facilities to produce and promote art, and its own nightclub.
The Tank, Shanghai transforms five former oil tanks belonging to an airport into a cultural centre and art gallery.
The National Museum of Qatar has a roof of striking interlocking discs, and is built around a historic palace.
Meanwhile British architect Sir David Adjaye’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC has been named design of the year 2017.
Asked to answer the question ‘Should Britain stop building museums?’ by Apollo magazine former Culture Minister Ed Vaizey MP and the MA’s Policy Officer Alastair Brown found much to agree on. Brown welcomed the success of many new museum projects over the past few years – pointing to the Hepworth Wakefield (Museum of the Year 2017) as an example of how a new institution can invigorate a city. However, with cuts, declining lottery funds at ACE and smaller budgets at HLF, he argues that “the continued promotion of exciting but risky new builds simply doesn’t sit right in a time of austerity, when existing museums are struggling to keep the doors open and maintain their skills and expertise.” Vaizey agrees that museums should ‘enhance what we already have’ but urges innovation rather than simply repair of existing buildings. He says ‘money should be spent strengthening [nationals'] links with regional museums’ and on opening up storage and disseminating the best ideas in digital transformation. Apollo
The East End Women’s Museum was set up in 2015 as a series of events, pop up exhibitions and workshops, initially in response to the Ripper Museum which presented the Ripper’s crimes as gothic spectacle. The museum has now found a permanent home as part of a development at Barking Wharf which will open at the end of 2019. The museum will tell the story of pioneering women such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Sylvia Pankhurst who have links with East London. Co-founder Sarah Huws said “women make history too. But without their voices and experiences the history books are only telling half the story. We want to put women back in the picture, and share new perspectives on east London’s rich history.” The museum will be running a programme in Barking until its new building opens. East End Women’s Museum
Also: Craven Museum and Exhibition Gallery in Skipton has received £1.5m from HLF to completely redesign the gallery and add storage and research facilities. Thackray Medical Museum, sited in a former workhouse in Leeds, will also receive £1.5m towards a £3.7m improvement programme, including a mock operating theatre. HLF, ITV
Local authority Arts Investment Survey show cuts continuing, but slowing down
Arts Development UK has issued figures from its annual survey of local authority investment in the arts in England and Wales. It showed that cuts to arts services continued in 2017, but were less sharp than in previous years. Researchers commented: “The 2017 survey shows a very similar picture to last year: no dramatic change, but rather a continuation of the service reductions, budget cuts and uncertainty over the future that have characterised all our recent surveys. The gradual nature of the reductions makes it harder to see the overall level of change, but by looking back over time we can see the over two thirds reduction in local authority posts.”
38% of local authorities have no dedicated arts officer.
The total estimated spend across England and Wales for 2017 - 18 is just under £172m, a decrease of 1.6% compared to the previous year.
Modal arts spend by local authorities is under £150k in England, and £150 - £200k in Wales.
There has been a marked increase in partnership working to 96%.
Arts spend in England and Wales averaged £2.26 per person, down 16p (6.6%) on the previous year.
Arts Development UK has announced that it will close in March. It hopes that some of its functions including an e-zine and CPD programme will be taken over by other organisations, but it is not known if statistical reports will continue. AD:UK, AD:UK (closure announcement)
Edinburgh museums lose income and visitors after restricted opening hours
An Edinburgh City Council policy, begun in 2016, which reduced staff and opening hours at five museums has been shown to reduce visitors by 21% and earned income by 25%. The Museum of Edinburgh, Museum of Childhood, People’s Story, Writers’ Museum and City Arts Centre all reduced opening days from six or seven to five. Four saw a reduction in visitors – the Writers’ Museum grew its audiences by 3%, a much smaller number than previous years. £82k was saved in wages, but nearly all of this is offset by £76k in lost commercial income. Steady annual visitor figures of around 500,000 each year also fell by 100,000, with potential visitors frustrated that two museums on the same street are closed on different days, making it harder to visit both. The Council will now discuss opening hours in the light of these figures. Donald Wilson, the city’s culture convenor said he will put forward ‘financially viable options for alternative opening hours’, acknowledging that ‘we need to do something else’. Museums Journal, Herald Scotland
Also: There is controversy in Brighton as Brighton and Hove City Council lays plans to merge its museum service – Royal Pavilion & Museums – with Brighton Dome and Festival Ltd in July to create a new charitable trust. The Council has previously planned to move to the new structure over four years. The GMB union is considering a legal challenge, citing concerns about whether BDFL has experience of running such a large entity. Museums Journal
Local authorities consider cuts as they prepare budgets beyond 2018–19
Museums Journal has collated a list of four local councils where there may be reduced payments to museum services in the coming and subsequent financial years. These include:
Stirling Council plans to cut all of its £242k funding to Smith Art Gallery by 2023. Gallery Friends say the initial cut to £100k in 2020–21 would be enough to close the gallery, and that its 40,000 visitors contribute to the economy and attractiveness of the city.
Hampshire Cultural Trust, which runs 23 venues in the region will receive a £450k cut to its council grant in 2018–19. However, the Trust says that this is not unexpected and is in line with gradual reductions agreed with the Council since the Trust's inception in 2014.
Nottingham City Council is making 42 redundancies across the museum service before Nottingham Castle closes until 2020 for refurbishment. It hopes at least half of this reduction will be achieved by freezing vacancies.
At the time of writing, Torbay Council seems likely to step back from plans to withdraw its £55k support from Torquay Museum over two years, and retain the current level of funding, although this has to be confirmed at a council meeting.
Museums invited to take part in funded British Museum staff exchange programme
The British Museum is seeking five museums to take part in its five-day staff Knowledge Exchange programme. This is part of its wider National Programme which helps develop skills across the sector. Participating museums will send one staff member for a five-day placement at the British Museum, and receive a BM staff member in return. The project will cover travel, accommodation and subsistence. Paid staff in any role and level of seniority can apply, and the placement winner will be chosen by the receiving museum. The deadline for applications is 19th February. British Museum
National Trust doubles its curatorial staff in just over a year
Announcing the National Trust’s cultural programme for 2018, its Director of Curation John Orna-Ornstein revealed that the body had doubled its curatorial staff since October 2016, from 36 to 65. He said “we want our programmes to be of the highest quality – well-researched and scholarly, and we’re going to make sure that’s the case”. Museums Journal
Diversity report: major museums employing fewer BME staff than the rest of the cultural sector
Arts Council England has published its second annual diversity report covering the year 2016 – 17. It records a continuing disparity in the number of BME people employed in the cultural sector: 16% of the nation’s working age population are BME but only 11% work at NPOs and 4% at major museums. The report also covers the small percentage of disabled people employed in the sector (dealt with in more detail in a separate report – see museums and disabled people below). Launching the report, ACE Chair Sir Nicholas Serota said “our young, diverse population is a national asset – a multitude of perspectives, ideas, talent and creativity. But we have a problem. We are as a society depriving this young population of opportunity. I want the arts to be an inclusive world, a building open to all. Not an exclusive club. Our mission to deliver on diversity is doubly vital.” Guardian, ACE
A New Direction’s programme for cultural learning in London
A New Direction, the London body championing cultural learning for young people, has published its programme for the year. This includes the Small Change programme, helping organisations collaborate to create a step change in cultural education, and the ongoing Museums & Heritage Learning Group, which explores sector CPD needs. AND (full programme)
Reports assess the effect of museum ‘Lates’ on night-time economy
Culture24 has produced three reports looking in depth at the effect of Lates (events after 5pm) in museums and galleries. These cover the UK, international practice and a report on the role Lates play in cultural tourism. Lates began to take off around the turn of the century, and there are now around 5000 events each year in the UK, worth around £9.6m in ticket sales. Despite this, there has been very little research in the area, and the reports offer background and data for museums to benchmark their own programmes for the first time. Measurable advantages include income generation, drawing in new audiences by creating a social space, and placing museums at the heart of local areas as Lates also generate footfall for other out of hours businesses. Lucy Woodbridge, now Head of Visitor Events at NHM, describes the effect of creating an out of hours programme at the RAF museum: “as a medium-sized museum in underground Zone 4, the directors were keen to increase visitor numbers through events and activities. Over four years I worked with my colleagues to create a programme that brought in a new audience, made the collection more accessible and generated an income. The Museum now programmes a wide variety of ticketed events including cinema, music, interpretive performance and much more. The programme is a fundamental part of the Museum’s strategy.” Culture24
2018 Working Internationally Conference: Working locally, Thinking Globally
This conference considers how museums can respond to the new international context and recent world events, and stay relevant to both domestic and international audiences. Speakers include Rob Stein, Vice President of the American Alliance of Museums and Nina Zdravič, Head of Programmes at Slovene Ethnographic Museum. There will also be a session on sources of funding for international work, and a panel with representatives from the V&A, Edinburgh Airport, IWM and Manchester Museum. Tickets are £45 for ICOM UK and NMDC members and £75 for non-members; there are a few £25 tickets for students. The event takes place at the National Museum of Scotland on 7th March. ICOM UK
For delegates who will be in Edinburgh early on Wed 7th March, ICOM UK is hosting a special roundtable breakfast before the conference. ICOM National Committees are running a series of roundtables across the world to explore the future of museums and how museums and societies intertwine and impact each other. This is your opportunity to contribute to the international discussion around the definition of museums in the 21st century. To register your interest contact Dana Andrew, ICOM UK Executive Director at [email protected]
It is just a few weeks until the Civilisations Festival, a multi-museum event centred around the flagship BBC series Civilisations, which is launching in March. A public facing page is opening on the BBC site in the next few days.
Civilisations information packs will be available from the BBC Media Centre from 7th February - email [email protected] if you would like further information about the TV series to augment your own events.
Open University experts contributed to the research for Civilisations and are available for museum, gallery and library events. Email [email protected] if you would like to discuss hosting an academic.
Museums can add events to the festival listings on Museums Crush and are urged to do so shortly to catch the first wave of publicity (contact Culture24 if your museum does not have an account).
Queer legacies: Transforming practice in museums and galleries post-2017
This conference explores the impact of a year of museum programmes in 2017 which commemorated 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality. Speakers discuss exhibitions including ‘Never Going Underground’ at the People’s History Museum; ‘Museum of Transology’ at Brighton Museum; ‘Transmission’ at Amsterdam Museum and ‘Queer British Art’ at Tate Britain. The event takes place at Brighton Museum on 7th March. Tickets are £65, there are also concessions and ten ticket bursaries. Brighton Museums
How to Create and Collaborate: TEG’s Generating Exhibition Ideas Symposium
The Generating Exhibition Ideas Symposium offers the chance for organisations to develop new exhibition ideas and work on them collaboratively. The Touring Exhibitions Group (TEG), Hayward Gallery Touring and Art Fund have programmed the event, which also gives an opportunity to network and share tips. Speakers include Brian Cass, Head of Exhibitions at the Towner Art Gallery and Natasha Howes, Senior Curator at Manchester Art Gallery. The event takes place at the Hayward Gallery on 13th March. Tickets are £25, and travel bursaries are available. TEG
Northern towns invited to put on events in response to the Great Exhibition
Towns and cities in northern England are being invited to create ‘events, performances and experiences’ in response to the Great Exhibition of the North, which runs in Newcastle-Gateshead from 22nd June – 9th September. Participation will be a way for other northern urban areas to draw attention to local creativity. Events which meet the criteria will be badged as part of the ‘inspired by’ programme. Great Exhibition of the North, Inspired by (submit an event)
Being commercial in a rural museum, and other courses
Museums Galleries Scotland is holding a one-day event exploring how rural museums can become more commercial, laying out the advantages and difficulties in evolving this approach. Participants will learn about resources and collaborative opportunities, and create an action plan by the end of the day. It takes place at the University of Dundee on 28th February. Tickets are £20 for those working in the Scottish museum sector, and £30 for other participants. The event is part of a month-long training programme with ten courses all centred on income generation for museums. MGS, MGS (whole spring programme)
The Arts Marketing Association and Culture24 are running a one-day workshop for senior museum leaders, to show how to achieve digitally literate leadership. It explores how audience behaviour changes with technology, and how to respond in a fast-changing environment. It also looks at ways for museums to be experimental with new ideas. Tickets are £95 + VAT for AMA members, and £125 + VAT for non-members. The event runs first in London on 14th February, then in Birmingham on 6th March. AMA (Birmingham), AMA (London)
‘The museum is not neutral’ – museums questioning histories
The Fitzwilliam Museum is hosting a one-day event exploring the idea that ‘The museum is not neutral’ through the lens of politics from the continuing arguments about statues and memorials, to the use of LGBT lanyards by volunteers at National Trust properties. Speakers include artist and curator Matt Smith whose exhibition ‘Flux’ appears simultaneously at the museum, Richard Sandell, Professor of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester and artist Jasleen Kuar. Tickets are £35 (£20 concessions) and the event takes place on 30th April. Fitzwilliam
The Women’s Vote Centenary Grant Scheme run by the Government Equalities Office opened for Large Grants (between £2k - £125k) on 5th February. Full details of eligibility and how to apply will be published shortly. The Houses of Parliament is also hosting a number of events and exhibitions throughout 2018 to mark 100 years since the first women received the vote. It is also promoting EqualiTeas – tea parties across the country in celebration of democracy. Parliament.uk, Women’s Vote Centenary Fund
Inquiry into the social impact of culture and sport
The parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has launched a new inquiry into the social impact of participation in the arts, cultural activity and sport, and how it can have a positive impact on community, health and education. The committee is now seeking views from organisations and the public. Specific questions in the brief terms of reference include: ‘Why has the Government not co-ordinated its efforts more effectively?’ and ‘How can museums, galleries and other cultural venues boost access and social impact?’. The committee is also keen to hear case studies of successful work. The deadline for submissions is 22nd February. Parliament uk
HLF seeks views on its role, vision and funding priorities
HLF is seeking views on its direction over the next five years. Chief Executive Ros Kerslake said “we now hold a unique position as the largest dedicated funder of the UK’s heritage and, at a time of increased competition and reduced budgets, want to be sure we are using every pound of National Lottery players’ money in the best way possible.” The online consultation is open until 22nd March. HLF has also published the results of its workshops with 200 National Lottery players across the UK. Participants were pleased with the breadth of projects which HLF funds, but suggested that it should be more proactive in asking people what kind of projects they would value locally, and argued that HLF should make decisions with input from those communities. HLF
ACE launches public conversation around next ten-year strategy
Arts Council England is opening a public conversation about the issues that should inform its second ten-year strategy, covering the period 2020 – 2030. ACE Chief Executive Darren Henley writes that widening arts access to all socio-economic groups and diversifying visitors and staff will continue to be issues, alongside ‘catch[ing] up with the digital revolution’, the impact of leaving the EU and changing global politics. An online platform is now open for people to give views. Nesta is also producing a scoping document. The findings from these initial stages will be published later in the year. ACE (Henley blog), ACE (overview), ACE (conversation platform)
The Museum of English Rural Life has been working with the University of Reading to explore intangible cultural heritage in museums and heritage organisations. It is now evolving a toolkit on the topic, but is first seeking input from the sector. The survey takes around ten minutes to complete. MERL (survey)
GEM is conducting a short survey to discover the ‘needs, activities and aspirations’ of those working in the museum sector, and get feedback on its existing CPD provision. The results will inform its programme, and help support funding bids for future activity. The deadline for submissions is 14th February. GEM
Kids in Museums seeks to develop its training programme
Kids in Museums is hoping to build its training and consultancy services, following a Resilient Heritage Grant. It is seeking views of its work, including its public programme of events, and workshops for the sector. Kids in Museums
ACE publishes new report on disabled people in the cultural sector workforce
Disabled people are under-represented at all levels in the cultural and creative industries workforces. The Arts Council has published a new report, ‘Making A Shift’ drawing from data for England, exploring how to change the culture. The report found that:
At around 4%, the number of disabled people working for National Portfolio Organisations and Major Partner Museums is much lower than for the workforce in general, where the figure is 9.6%. 18% of the working age population are ‘Equality Act Disabled’.
Figures broken down by art form show that disabled people are most represented in Dance (8%) and least in Music (1.8%) with museums towards the lower end of the scale at 2.6%.
Barriers identified by the report include a ‘very narrow’ definition by employers of ‘reasonable adjustments’, a culture of long working hours, difficulties with transport and access, a lack of role models and prevailing attitudes to disabled people.
Disabled people reported that larger employers and universities were more willing to make access adjustments than smaller organisations. Many working in the sector had to become self-employed so they could work in a flexible way, but with the risk of low wages and insecurity.
ACE gives a table of actions to be carried out either immediately, over two years or in the long term. In particular, NPOs receiving over £250k will have to demonstrate that they are giving ‘full weight’ to the issue in their action plans. ACE will also continue to work with the Department for Work and Pensions to raise awareness of the needs of disabled people in the arts, especially in relation to Access to Work payments. Training providers working with ACE should create high quality leadership schemes for disabled people, and ACE should invest more in disabled-led organisations ACE
27% of accredited museums not providing basic access information for disabled people
95% of visitors with access needs will check a museum’s website for relevant information before visiting. However, around 27% of accredited museums – 458 institutions – provide no information for this audience. The charity VocalEyes is encouraging museums to fix the problem ahead of its 2018 survey, ‘State of Museum Access’. VocalEyes will be assessing the availability of information for people with all kinds of access needs, not just blind users. There are around 11.9m disabled people in the UK, representing a substantial slice of potential museum visitors. VocalEyes says ‘providing access information online is not expensive or difficult’ and points to a number of resources which museums can use to construct useful information. VocalEyes
Pioneering People and Places: symposium and exhibitions on disabled people’s history
The History of Place project has opened the second of its three exhibitions exploring the lives of deaf and disabled people over 800 years. ‘The Blind School: Pioneering People and Places’ at the Museum of Liverpool also offers an audio guide, BSL, tactile exhibits and an accessible digital game, and is a useful exemplar of work by, for and about disabled people. A display, ‘Without Walls’ about disabled people’s influence on architecture, opens at the V&A on February 10th. There will also be a free symposium: ‘Rethinking Disability: What needs to change in museums and galleries?’ at the Museum of Liverpool on 9th March to take forward sector practice. Speakers include MA Director Sharon Heal, Jocelyn Dodd from the University of Leicester and curators from MShed, V&A and the Museum of Liverpool. HOP, Museum of Liverpool, V&A, HOP (Symposium)
It has been confirmed that Michael Ellis MP, whose post at DCMS was announced last month, will be Parliamentary Under Secretary for Arts, Heritage and Tourism. He takes over the Arts Minister role from John Glen. Gov.uk
Justin Maciejewski has been appointed as the new Director of the National Army Museum. He is a former Brigadier and Iraq War veteran. He said “having served in the army for most of my life it will be an honour to be at the helm of a museum that not only preserves its remarkable history, but actively invites the public to engage and explore the role of its armed forces today.” Museums Journal
British Council programme offers £5k to scope museum partnership work with the Gulf
The UK-Gulf exhibition programme is run by the British Council and promotes partnership working between UK not-for-profit museums and galleries, and counterparts in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The initiative aims to showcase the best of British art, and offer educational opportunities for youth in these countries, who make up more than half of the population. Grants of up to £5k are available for scoping exercises for UK museums wishing to develop a partnership. The deadline for applications is 11th February. British Council
The government has confirmed that the Bayeux Tapestry will tour to the UK in 2022, visiting the country for the first time in more than 900 years. Prime Minister Theresa May said “I am honoured at the loan of such a precious piece of our shared history which yet again underscores the closeness of the UK-France relationship.” Exact locations and dates have not yet been announced. Gov.uk
British Museum collaborates on database to stop looting of pharaonic antiquities
The British Council has announced the latest round of awards from the Cultural Protection Fund, which helps preserve tangible and intangible culture in conflict zones or areas at risk. Among the projects is a £999k British Museum led initiative to counteract looting of pharaonic antiquities in Egypt and Sudan. The museum will train, equip and support staff in Cairo and Khartoum to create a digital platform ‘Circulating Artefacts’. This will track Egyptian and Nubian artefacts currently on the international art market. By co-ordinating and adding data from organisations from law enforcement agencies to auctioneers and government, it will become easier to spot looted artefacts. Other projects in this round will preserve archaeological sites in the Gaza Strip, protect minority languages in Afghanistan and preserve traditional food culture in Sudan. British Council
Half day museum ‘internships’ for European politicians
The Network of European Museum Organisations (NEMO) has launched a programme of half day internships at museums for European politicians. Politicians may find themselves selling tickets, leading a tour of schoolchildren or helping to organise an exhibition. It is hoped the programme will give law makers new insights into the work of arts institutions, and the challenges they face. The first intern will be British Labour MEP Julie Ward who will be working for a few hours at the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht. The project is inspired by a scheme that has been running in the Netherlands for some years, in which 22 politicians took part in cultural activities. Arts Professional, NEMO
Louvre displays looted art in an attempt to find owners
The Louvre has mounted an exhibition of 31 paintings looted by the Nazis, in the hope that this will prompt surviving relatives of the owners to come and claim them. The pictures are among 296 items of Nazi loot stored at the Louvre. Head of Paintings Sébastien Allard said “the vast majority of the works of art retrieved were plundered from Jewish families. Their heirs may see these works, declare that they belong to them, and officially ask for their return. Museums have often appeared to be predators in the past, but we are not trying to keep them.” Since 1951, only about 50 works of art have been returned, because of the difficulty in producing evidence of ownership. Herald Scotland, Telegraph (paywall)
Met’s new mandatory admission fees provoke debate in an ‘age of division’
The Metropolitan Museum in New York has introduced mandatory paid admission for out-of-state visitors for the first time since 1970, a response to a 73% drop in visitors paying its ‘suggested donation’. Times journalist Richard Morrison argues that UK national museums should follow suit, and charge overseas visitors as other world museums do, such as the Louvre. Meanwhile, The New York Times has published a conversation between its two chief art critics, in which they express disquiet with charging – for reasons ranging from the relatively small sums raised to the social consequences of preventing entry for those who don’t have ID. Roberta Smith says “I worry that the Met’s plan is classist, and nativist. It divides people into categories — rich and poor, native and foreign — which is exactly what this country does not need right now.” Holland Cotter says “loopy as it may sound, on principle I believe major public museums should have universal free admission. You should be able to walk in off the street and see the art just as you can enter a public library and read the books on the shelf.” New York Times, The Times (paywall after two articles)
The city of Bath is again considering creating a bed tax of £1 per night for all guests staying in hotels, generating £24m each year. This is the second time councillors have pursued the idea: previous plans have been vetoed by government. However, as Birmingham may now be allowed to impose a levy to help cover the 2022 Commonwealth Games, the idea is back on the table. The surcharge would help support 5,000 listed assets in the city and ‘support the public realm, arts and culture’. Tourist taxes are common in cities across Europe, although in most of these countries VAT is also lower. ALVA
Leeds City Council goes ahead with ‘Year of Culture’
Leeds was among the UK cities which made a bid to become European Capital of Culture 2023, before all were rejected on the grounds that the UK is leaving the EU. When the competition was cancelled, Leeds local government and sponsors had already invested £800k. Consequently, Leeds City Council has decided to try and go ahead with a Year of Culture anyway, possibly before 2023. Council Leader Judith Blake said “what we unleashed through putting the bid forward in the first place is everyone working together for the first time right across the whole of Leeds. Obviously with the disappointment we had an enormous reaction – so many people getting in touch and expressing shock and disappointment – and this very quickly turned into, ‘what can we do instead?’ Well we’re Leeds. We can do this.” The city’s festival may encompass sport and a sculpture festival involving museums in the area. It is in discussion with DCMS to see if it can access further funds. Arts Professional, BBC
Also: The Titanic Foundation has published plans to further develop the ‘Titanic Quarter’ of Belfast and attract even more tourism to the area. Plans include an ‘outdoor museum’ with a maritime mile linking heritage and attractions. Museums Journal
Also: UNESCO is developing a sustainability tool to be used by World Heritage Sites to easily assess how well tourism and visitors are being managed. It is hoped this will empower communities around heritage sites, and ensure that tourist management is proactive not passive. ALVA
War memorials and arts-led campaign for foster care on Hearts for the Arts shortlist
The National Campaign for the Arts has announced the shortlist for its annual Hearts for the Arts Awards, which recognise local councils that have creatively supported the arts, despite tight funding for local authorities. The five shortlisted programmes are:
Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council – which created a part time Public Art post. This led to the creation of popular local public art, including a temporary installation remembering 300 people from Barnsley who died on the first day of the Somme, now permanently installed in Churchfield Peace Garden due to public support.
Plymouth City Council’s I.AM.NOT.A.ROBOT installation brought together artists with young people with an experience of care, to create a publicity campaign, encouraging more people in Plymouth to become foster carers.
Milton Keynes Council used the seed funding of local groups, plus match funding, plus philanthropy to build a ‘50th birthday party’ for the city, with dozens of creative events.
Cambridge City Council’s Activate programme worked with museums and theatres to give children with limited or no access to the arts an experience of culture.
Hertfordshire Council’s Early Hurly Burly combined music, libraries and support from ACE to involve very young children in arts and learning.
There are additional awards for individuals: Best local authority arts champion and an award for projects promoting community cohesion. The winners will be announced on 14th February. National Campaign for the Arts
Stepping into other realities: new support for museum VR
CreativeXR funds VR/AR prototypes allowing audiences to ‘step into history’
After a stiff competition with 250 entries, the CreativeXR fund has given £20k each to 20 virtual or augmented reality projects to develop work for the cultural sector. CreativeXR is supported by Arts Council England and Digital Catapult. A number of the chosen projects cover history topics, or are explicitly designed for the museum sector including:
Immersive Histories by All Seeing Eye Ltd: a VR experience allowing an audience to physically step into history.
London’s Got Character by Figment Productions: An Augmented Reality experience bringing London’s cultural history to life through literary, artistic and historical characters.
STEIN by Hammerhead: A VR crime thriller solving cold cases from British history.
Three Lights by Third Lighter Ltd: An immersive, narrative driven, VR learning experience designed for the museum sector.
The teams will pitch their evolving work at a marketplace in March, attended by major media partners including the BBC, Sky, Sony and Google. It is hoped that CreativeXR will give developers space to develop riskier, content driven projects and evolve new ideas. Meanwhile, Museums + Heritage have reviewed some recent museum VR projects in the UK and abroad, including the Kremer Museum in New York, which displays 17th century Dutch paintings entirely through VR. Digital Catapult, M + H, Kremer Museum, ACE (report on the long term effects of the Digital R&D programme)
Also: Tate and Preloaded are livestreaming an event on 8th February asking ‘How can VR transform the visitor experience?’ drawing from their current project ‘Modigliani VR – The Ochre Atelier’ which recreates the artist’s final Parisian studio. Preloaded, Tate
‘ Space, place, sound and memory’: AHRC funds 32 immersive experience research projects
Additionally, the Arts and Humanities Research Council is funding 32 research projects which explore the future of immersive experiences in cultural contexts, in partnership with the Physical Sciences Research Council. The fund is supporting a number of collaborations between universities and museums. These include:
A ‘mixed reality’ project at Falmouth University, using headsets to project virtual objects into real museum spaces. This project will develop an MR installation for the Telegraph Museum at Porthcurno in Cornwall, where players will be invited to solve a fictional problem set during the Second World War.
‘Within the walls of York Gaol: memory, place and the immersive museum’ is a joint project between the University of York and York Museums Trust. It will use VR to tell the story of how debt impacted on the lives of past York residents, drawing on material present in the archives, but not currently part of the interpretation at York Castle Museum.
Other projects relate the stories of war veterans and Holocaust survivors, harness the creativity of children’s authors, augment book browsing in historic libraries, create sound-led experiences and immersive experiences for deaf people – and construct a digital ghost hunt. AHRC
Only half of charities prepared for data protection changes coming into force in May
DCMS says that its data shows only half of businesses and charities are aware of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which will come into force from May. Resources from the Information Commissioners Office include a dedicated advice line for small organisations, as well as GDPR guides and checklists. ICO will be empowered to impose fines up to £17m or 4% of global turnover on organisations in serious breach of the new rules.
Speaking about the future of digital at Davos, Culture Secretary Matt Hancock said that the government would prioritise harnessing new technologies, creating an innovation-friendly regulatory system and supporting an ‘ethical framework to make the internet a force for good’. Gov.uk (Matt Hancock speech), Gov.uk (digital charter)
21% of creative industries considering moving abroad if there is a hard Brexit
The Creative Industries Federation has published a new report on the effect of Brexit on global trade in its sector. Based on a survey of 131 leading UK creative businesses the report found that 80% are not confident that the UK will retain its current global reputation post-Brexit, and 21% are considering moving operations abroad in the case of hard Brexit. 40% believe a ‘no deal’ outcome will harm their ability to export. The report seeks to make creative industries ‘top priority’ during negotiations, and asks for the current status quo on trade to continue during the implementation period. CIF
Hepworth Wakefield revives 1940s scheme to create artists prints for primary schools
In the late 1940s Brenda Rawnsley drew together a group of artists to create School Prints: sets of images of contemporary art to be displayed in primary schools, to give many young people a first taste of new work. These included work by Matisse, Henry Moore and Picasso. Now Hepworth Wakefield has revived the idea, and has invited six artists (Martin Creed, Jeremy Deller, Anthea Hamilton, Helen Marten, Haroon Mirza and Rose Wylie) to produce work responding to the original 1940s brief. Deller’s image shows an intellectual octopus reading a book called ‘The Problem With Humans’. He comments: “I’ve always felt that contemporary art is much better suited to children than it is to adults. My print is almost like an illustration from a book. It’s meant to make little kids smile.” The sets of prints will be given away free to schools in Wakefield, and will be made available cheaply to schools elsewhere. The project is accompanied by an exhibition displaying the new work, alongside examples from the 1940s. Guardian, Hepworth Wakefield
‘An interesting week’ – huge response to removal of Hylas and the Nymphs
‘Well, there’s no denying it’s been an interesting week’ says Manchester Art Gallery. It temporarily removed John William Waterhouse’s ‘Hylas and the Nymphs’ from display at the gallery, ahead of an exhibition by artist Sonia Boyce, whose previous museum work has involved concealing artefacts in order to reconsider them. The vacant space where the painting usually hangs quickly filled up with post it notes as audiences responded to the removal. It also provoked a huge volume of media interest, ranging from angry accusations of censorship, to a discussion of whether or not the painting relates to #MeToo and the objectification of women. Curator Clare Gannaway said “we want to see this as the start of a process, not an end point. But what we're not doing is censoring”. The strength of feeling has led the gallery to programme a series of public debates to further explore the issues. Classicist Mary Beard dropped into the conversation to give a run down of the Hylas myth, commenting “this is a variant on the ‘femme fatale’ of ancient, and Victorian, sexism (watch those women: with their destructive sexuality, they’ll literally destroy you).” The painting is now back after its planned week of absence, Manchester Art Gallery continues to host an online conversation with more than 700 comments, and the nation has unexpectedly received a masterclass in the subtexts of mildly erotic Pre-Raphaelite painting. Manchester Art Gallery, TLS, The Guardian, BBC
Export bars for Turner picture and Georgian baby house
Arts Minister Michael Ellis has placed an export bar on ‘Ehrenbreitstein’ by JMW Turner. The picture shows a fortress near Koblenz in Germany, and is one of a number of paintings of places associated with Byron produced by the artist. The asking price is £18.5m plus VAT. The export bar runs to 28th May, with a possible extension to 28th November if there is serious interest in raising the funds. A Georgian ‘baby house’ (the 18th century name for a dolls’ house) has also received an export bar. It is one of only thirty examples dated earlier than 1760. The baby house has an asking price of £65k + VAT and the bar is in place until 1st May with a possible extension to 1st August. Gov.uk, Gov.uk
Also: DCMS has published its departmental plan, giving a brief overview of its main objectives. Gov.uk,