Budget includes £408m recovery package for culture
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has delivered the Budget against a background of an economy that has shrunk by 10%, and with 700,000 having lost their jobs across the UK. He said that the 2021 Budget is intended to support recovery. Items of greatest relevance to the cultural sector are as follows:
£408m in additional funds to support the culture sector, consisting of:
An additional £300m in additional money for the Cultural Recovery Fund in England, bringing the total to £1.87bn since the pandemic began
£90m for national museums and cultural bodies
£20m for cultural projects in regional towns and cities
Extending the furlough scheme:
The furlough scheme for employees will now extend to September, continuing to provide up to 80% of salary for hours not worked, up to a total of £2.5k each month. Reopened businesses will contribute 10% of this to 31st July, then 20%.
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has been extended, with a fourth grant of up to £7.5k covering February to April. There will be a fifth grant from July. People who have filed a 2020 tax return will be able to claim.
Eligible retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will pay no business rates for three months, with up to 66% relief for the rest of the year.
The 5% VAT rate for hospitality and tourism will remain until 30th September, followed by a rate of 12.5% until April 2022.
Payments for those hiring apprentices from 1st April – 30th September will double to £3k, with £126m to support those offering trainee shifts to apprentices.
There will also be a new £150m fund to help communities take ownership of pubs, theatres or sports clubs.
Rishi Sunak said “it's only right that we continue to build on our historic package of support for the sector.This industry is a significant driver of economic activity, employing more than 700,000 people in jobs across the UK, and I am committed to ensuring the arts are equipped to captivate audiences in the months and years to come." NMDC commented “this investment will be vital in supporting our museums as they reopen, and as they in turn play a crucial role in helping communities across the UK to recover from the Covid crisis.” AIM Chair Andrew Lovett was among those welcoming the news. He said “in the face of cataclysmic financial shock caused to the UK by Covid-19 and the competing demands this creates, it is tremendously heartening to see that the Government is continuing to back culture.”
The provisions have been generally well-received in the cultural sector. A majority of the measures called for by the the sector ahead of the Budget were met, including an extension to the furlough scheme and more Cultural Recovery Fund support. However, there has not been an extension to the Museum and Gallery Exhibition Tax Relief. ALVA said it welcomes the extension of reduced rate of VAT for six months but added that a year’s extension would still be needed ‘to help repair balance sheets and drive visitors and spending’. The Creative Industries Federation said that the measures will ‘provide relief to many’, although it regretted that proposals for Government-backed insurance for live events had not been adopted. Museums Freelance welcomed the SEISS provisions, but pointed to the “huge number of self-employed people who are excluded from support, including those run limited companies and those who were majority employed during the eligibility period”.Gov.uk (Budget overview), Gov.uk (Levelling Up fund), Gov.uk (all Budget documents), M + H, ALVA, CIF, Museums Journal, Guardian (reaction from performing arts), BBC
£4.8bn Levelling Up Fund prospectus published with provision for museums and local culture
The Government has published a more detailed prospectus for its £4.8bn Levelling Up Fund, a UK-wide cross-departmental project to improve infrastructure. Bringing together the Department for Transport, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Treasury, the fund will initially focus on three strands: transport, regeneration and town centres, and cultural investment. The cultural strand will cover“maintaining, regenerating, or creatively repurposing museums, galleries, visitor attractions (and associated green spaces) and heritage assets as well as creating new community-owned spaces to support the arts and serve as cultural spaces”. Although open to every area, the fund will be particularly focused on ex-industrial areas, deprived towns and coastal communities. Funding will be delivered through local authorities; details of the bidding process will be announced later this year for the 2022 - 23 funding round. Gov.uk
Tullie House Museum receives £2m as part of Budget cultural recovery funding
Tullie House Museum has been granted £2m towards its major redevelopment plan as part of new Cultural Recovery Fund money announced in the Budget. The money will be used to repurpose existing buildings, gardens and galleries into contemporary, multi-use spaces, showcasing more of the museum’s collections. Visitor infrastructure will also be improved to create a more accessible and community-centred offer, and the project is expected to create new permanent jobs and paid placements for young people. Director Andrew Mackay said: “we are absolutely delighted by today’s announcement. Receiving national recognition from HM Government emphasises the importance of Tullie House and the high value placed on our work delivering economic and cultural recovery.The funding is a step forward in realising a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform Tullie House.”Tullie House, ITV
National Gallery plans £25m upgrade as it anticipates the return of tourists
The National Gallery has announced a £25m upgrade to its building over the next five years, including improvement to the lobby of the Sainsbury Wing, a new research centre more accessible to the public than its existing library and improvement to its outdoor space on the edge of Trafalgar Square. Director Dr Gabriele Finaldi said that it might take five years for the National Gallery to regain its pre-covid average of six million visitors per year, but added that London “will always be an attractive destination—and we want to be part of the recovery”. He also said that the new plans would fit with public priorities changed by the pandemic: “I think people will have a different attitude to public buildings and public spaces, they’ll be more cautious, they’ll be looking for more open space.” Much of the work will be complete by 2024, when the gallery celebrates its 200th anniversary. Art Newspaper, National Gallery, Evening Standard, Arts Industry, National Gallery (design team selection), M + H
Images this month: Seedscapes: Future-Proofing Nature planned for RAMM’s reopening
Images this month come from RAMM’s new exhibition ‘Seedscapes: Future-Proofing Nature’, which is due to open this spring or summer as soon as coronavirus restrictions allow. The exhibition brings together five international artists, showcasing the work of biologists and ecologists to reveal the vital importance of seeds during this age of the Anthropocene. The exhibition ranges from Scottish shorelines to Arctic seed vaults, in an exploration of global efforts to save plants from extinction. RAMM
Museums in England to reopen at stage three, on 17th May at the earliest
The Government has announced a four stage roadmap out of lockdown, with museums pencilled in to reopen in the third stage, with an earliest opening date of 17th May. The four stages, which have at least five weeks between each step, are as follows:
Schools open from 8th March, and outdoor gatherings of two households or six people will be allowed in private gardens from 29th March.
In the second stage, no sooner than 12th April non-essential retail, outdoor attractions including zoos and theme parks, plus libraries and community centres will open, while pubs and restaurants can serve customers outside. Museums can open outdoor spaces only at this stage, as well as as gift shops and takeaway kiosks, - but only if they are self-contained and can be accessed without entering the museum.
General museum opening is part of a third stage from 17th May at the earliest. Indoor entertainment including cinemas and theatres will also resume, and pubs and restaurants will be able to serve customers inside. It is also the earliest day that most international travel can resume.
All lockdown measures will end at stage four, on 21st June at the earliest.
Some commentators have pointed to the inconsistency of opening commercial galleries alongside ‘non-essential retail’ from 12th April, with the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) tweeting ‘if you can open H&M, you can open the V&A’. Horniman Director Nick Merriman questioned placing museums in the same category of risk as ‘saunas and gyms’ but Derby Museums’ Director Tony Butler welcomed a degree of certainty: “sad that museums can’t open under step 2 but I would rather there be a firm roadmap and that it’s stuck to. It makes it so much easier for businesses to plan.” Art Newspaper, M + H, Gov.uk (full Government guidance), Twitter, Art Newspaper
Also: NMDC’s ‘Good Practice Guidelines for Reopening Museums’ was last updated on 12th February and is available here: NMDC
Mainland Scottish museums likely to remain closed until the end of April
Mainland Scotland has been in lockdown since 5th January with all museums closed. A number of Scottish islands including Orkney and Shetland, some western isles and all Highland islands except Skye remain at Level 3, and museums are permitted to open in those areas with face masks and social distancing. It is expected that current restrictions will be relaxed from the end of April and all of Scotland will move to Level 3, but an update with greater detail is due shortly from the Scottish Government. Meanwhile, some younger schoolchildren have already returned to in-person education in Wales, which remains largely in lockdown. The next announcement of any changes will be on 12th March. The Northern Ireland Executive has also published a five stage route map out of lockdown, with museum reopening earmarked for phase three. There are no approximate dates attached, although children are returning to school over two phases on 8th and 22nd March. MGS (latest coronavirus update, 23rd Feb), Scottish Government, Northern Ireland, Welsh Government
Welsh Government announces additional £30m for leisure and tourism businesses
The Welsh Government has announced £30m in additional support for leisure, tourism and hospitality businesses employing ten or more staff. It will be distributed through the Economic Resilience Fund. If restrictions are extended on 12th March, Welsh tourism-related businesses of all sizes will be eligible for an additional payment of up to £5k. Welsh Government
VOA called to avoid ‘endless round of litigation’ and accept judgements on museum business rates
Despite losing in previous court battles over museum business rates, including a landmark judgement in favour of Exeter Council in 2019, the Valuation Office Agency is pursuing new cases through the courts, in the hope of increasing revenue. The Exeter case established that the Royal Albert Memorial Museum should have a nominal Rateable Value of £1 annually, calculated because the property does not make a net surplus. However, VOA is now pursuing cases against six other museums, including Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, arguing that valuation should be based on the costs of storing collections elsewhere, or a low percentage of gross income. Colin Hunter, Business Rates Director at Lambeth Smith Hampton, which acted for museums in previous legal proceedings, told Museums Journal that this wastes public money as local authorities confront another public body, the VOA, in court. He added “the real problem is that despite losing consistently they are still refusing to have constructive conversations, which could mean that we have a never-ending round of litigation – after all, we haven’t dealt with new museums and galleries yet.”Museums Journal
Also: The Government has announced it will publish its ‘fundamental review’ of business rates in the autumn ‘when there is more economic certainty’. Gov.uk
FCA offers business interruption insurance policy checker
A mixed picture has emerged of which business interruption insurance policies do or do not cover Covid-19. Now the Financial Conduct Authority has produced simple guidance, including FAQs with an overview of ‘disease clauses’ and a policy checker process to assess whether businesses can make a claim. FCA (policy checker), FCA (FAQs)
Mapping Museums tracks risk, closure and resilience for museums during and after Covid.
The Mapping Museums research team has received £190k in funding to analyse risk, closure, and resilience in the UK museum sector as a result of Covid-19. The project will continue for 18 months, creating a picture of how well museums cope with the pandemic itself and its aftermath. This data is not being comprehensively captured elsewhere, consequently “none of the organisations with responsibility for museums have kept records of closure and museums often fade away without fanfare.” Similarly, there is only a record that a museum is facing any difficulty if it chooses to report this to a sector body such as ACE or AIM. The new project plans a data-driven approach, scraping large amounts of information from websites to see if they have been recently updated, whether they are organising outdoor events or planning for reopening – and other signs of a healthy or struggling organisation. The analysis phase will also reveal how various museum types are responding – from university to local authority museums. Mapping Museums is led by Dr Fiona Candlin and based at Birkbeck College, University of London. It has previously carried out extensive research into all the museums which opened or closed in the period 1960 – 2020. This dataset was formally launched on 17th March 2020, the first day of the first lockdown. Candlin comments “we had inadvertently produced a database and a report that could easily have been titled ‘Museums Before the Pandemic” – now a useful comparator for the new project. Mapping Museums
Also: The City of London has announced that it has abandoned plans to create a £300m Centre for Music at the current site of the Museum of London after its move to Smithfield. Instead the Corporation will be putting resources into upgrading the Barbican in line with sustainability, climate action and changing needs of audiences. Arts Industry
Museums from Whitworth to Tate weigh up the long-term damage from the pandemic
The i-paper has published a piece beginning to weigh up the financial cost and long-term implications for museums of a year in which most have only been able to open for a couple of months. It cites the Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery, which were crucially supported by £669k from the Cultural Recovery Fund. However, Whitworth alone would usually expect to earn £500k each year from its shop, café and events – and has lost core funding as the University of Manchester deals with the costs of the pandemic. Consequences for the Whitworth so far include 40% staff redundancies and a 75% reduction to the exhibition budget. New announcements of losses of gallery staff at Tate and V&A reflect similar pictures elsewhere. The Royal Academy has also lost around £2.5m, largely in lost ticket sales and through losing 15,000 members of its Friends programme in the past year – a fall from 95,000 to 80,000. Art Fund Director Jenny Waldman says this recurring picture of damage from multiple directions means that recovery will be a long process: “there will be a long tail to this, which is that financially these organisations are drained and therefore they are much more vulnerable to any knock in the next couple of years.”i paper
V&A faces job losses and restructuring in ‘final step’ to save £10m annually
The V&A has announced that there will be job losses as it restructures its curatorial, research and National Art Library departments. The museum says it must save at least £10m each year by 2023 due to coronavirus losses. The Art Newspaper reports that this will mean a total of 140 job losses out of a workforce of 980 since last September. Director Tristram Hunt writes that this will be the fifth and final stage of a ‘very difficult process’. There will be one new department covering Europe and the Americas, and another for Africa and Asia. Specialists will remain for areas such as fashion, theatre and architecture, but will be part of cross-disciplinary teams. Hunt said “this continues to be an exceptionally difficult time for everyone affected, and we recognise that these changes, both to our structure and to how we work together, are significant.”Art Newspaper, V&A (Director’s statement)
Museums emerge from 'worst crisis since the war' with opportunities to rethink
Writing for The Guardian, MA Director Sharon Heal has reflected on how museums have coped and evolved in response to the crises of the past year. Pointing to 4,000 job losses and the six out of ten museums which are now concerned for their survival, she says there are nevertheless some positives to be found. Museums have offered 'education, entertainment and practical help' - for example, the Seven Stories National Centre for Children's Books delivered hundreds of meals and books, mindful that not every family has a digital lifeline during lockdown. Museums are also finding ways to respond to climate, COP26 and the issues of represenatation and interpretation given new visibility by Black Lives Matter. She argues that although the coming months will not be easy, audiences are keen to return. She adds: "when I visited the outdoor museum at St Fagans in Wales on a beautiful late-summer day last year, I could see the impact being back in their wonderful spaces was having on them and the public." Guardian
New Arts & Heritage podcast looks at stories of contemporary art at heritage sites
Arts & Heritage has launched a new podcast series, telling the story of collaborations between contemporary artists and ‘small and modestly sized’ museums. The first episode discusses the work between Colne Valley Museum, based in mid-19th century weavers’ cottages, and artist Ed Kluz. They describe how a project emerged from the traditional skills of museum volunteers, who designed contemporary samplers and embossing stamps for leather, and others for lava bread. Ed says “I didn’t feel like a grand installation would work at the museum, but one concession to that is that we are producing, very much in the mode of trade guilds, a large banner”. Museum staff say they have found a way forward to more ambitious future plans through participating in the project. Arts & Heritage (podcast), Arts & Heritage
Simon Thurley has been appointed as Chair of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and The National Lottery Heritage Fund for three years from 1st April 2021. He succeeds René Olivieri who has been interim Chair for the past year. Gov.uk
ICOM UK-NMDC 2021 Working Internationally Conference
Each year ICOM UK, in partnership with NMDC, organises the one-day Working Internationally Conference. 2021 will be a little different: this year it will be an online event over three days, taking place at a time when major global issues such as the impact of Covid-19, climate crisis, Brexit, and social justice will see museums continuing to reconsider and reimagine their roles in a global and local context and establish new ways of working. Each day of the conference will focus on a major global issue including social justice, sustainability and the future of museums. A full programme has now been published with sessions including:
Dr Errol Francis, Culture& New Museum School and New Museum School alumnae, Vanessa Otim and Kirsty Kerr tackle the theme: Culture& Black Lives Matter Charter: how we want museums to change.
Horniman Director Nick Merriman talks to Green Party Peer Baroness Natalie Bennett and Mary Robinson Adjunct Professor for Climate Justice in Trinity College Dublin about the role museums can play in in reaching net zero emissions and increasing biodiversity.
Sessions on how museums are evolving globally including ‘Live from Panama’ and ‘Live from Beirut’.
Tickets are free for ICOM UK, ICOM and NMDC members. Tickets for non-members are £89, but with concessions for students (£40) and retired (£45). Day tickets are £30 or £15 concessions. ICOM, Eventbrite
Sharing Collections: The future of borrowing and lending – new webinar series
A new Art Fund webinar series ‘Sharing Collections: the future of borrowing and lending’ begins shortly, supported by Garfield Weston Foundation and in partnership with NMDC, Touring Exhibition Group and UK Registrars Group. The first event takes place on 25th March – sign up now to register and learn more. Art Fund (sign up for more information)
British Museum Knowledge Share events programme begins with ‘Psychological First Aid’
The British Museum National Programme is running a series of online events until May, building on some of the conversations that were held at the National Programmes Conference 2019, which explored equality and diversity in UK museum practice. There will be a linking theme of change across the programme, reflecting both on a tumultuous year and changes many want to see in the sector. Full details of each event will be released in the coming weeks.
The first event is ‘Psychological First Aid – supporting people in mental or emotional distress’, led by Chartered Psychologist Dr Richard Castle. This event will introduce PFA and the framework and basic tools for supporting the public, vulnerable groups, and museum staff and volunteers, in a period which has challenged perceptions of ‘normality’. It takes place on 16th March. Tickets are free. National Programmes (full programme will be published here in coming weeks), National Programmes (psychological First Aid)
Seasons for Change is running a programme of events until July this year for cultural organisations responding to climate change. It invites organisations to contribute work, whether live or virtual, indoor or outside, to the programme. It is also on twitter at @JoinTheSeason Seasons for Change
Art UK symposium ‘Rediscovering our Sculpture’ marks the end of its major digitisation project
Art UK is holding a symposium as it draws to the end of its four year sculpture digitisation programme, planned to be completed by the autumn. The two-day event will comprise talks from curators, art historians, learning professionals and Art UK staff. The keynote will be given by Professor Mary Beard talking with Jeremy Deller about public sculptures and other public art. Tickets are free and the event takes place online from 11th – 12th March. Art UK
Centre for Cultural Value explores ‘Covid 19 – the great unequaliser?’
The Centre for Cultural Value has been conducting a major research programme on the impact of the pandemic on the cultural sector, and will be discussing its findings so far in an event ‘Covid 19 – the great unequaliser?’ It will particularly discuss research on the effects on employment – with findings including a 10% increase in the exit of under 25s from the sector during the pandemic. Although there’s not yet signs of a statistically significant decrease in the creative economy overall, if sectors such as film and TV, advertising and architecture are included, hours worked have plummeted. The proportion of people without degrees in the sector has also declined during lockdown from 37% to 34%. Relatedly, The Audience Agency is also a partner in CCV’s programme and has released a new report looking at online engagement during lockdown across artforms. The event takes place on Friday 12th March from 2.15pm. Tickets are free. CCV (webinar booking), Culture Hive (cultural employment data so far), CCV (overview of research), Audience Agency (digital engagement with culture under lockdown), Arts Professional
New round of Rebuilding Heritage one-to-one programme opens for applications soon
Applications for the next round of the Rebuilding Heritage support programme open on 11th March. It offers one to one support in business planning, communications strategy, fundraising consultancy and legal assistance. There are also places available on group training in rebuilding leadership, managing wellbeing, digital marketing, financial literacy and inclusivity at work. Places are open to freelancers, volunteers, businesses and sole traders as well as those with a heritage sector employer. Training is delivered by specialists including the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, Media Trust, Clore Leadership, and Creative United. The deadline for this round is 11pm on 30th March. Rebuilding Heritage
The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings is holding an event ‘Transforming Places: revitalising historic high streets’ which includes a discussion of recent funds and programmes for regeneration, including work by Historic England. The event takes place at noon on 11th March, tickets are £5 for SPAB members and £6 for others. (See the section ‘Plans to revive towns, cities and high streets’ for more on this theme). SPAB
National Gallery and Mori Art Museum discuss international touring during and after the pandemic
As part of an events series hosted by the British Council, National Gallery Director Gabriele Finaldi and Mami Kataoka, Director of the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, discussed their experience of a major touring exhibition from the National Gallery which ran into the Covid-19 pandemic. Kataoka comments that ‘even with the Covid, people were queueing to see the show’. They also discuss the pre- and -post pandemic landscape: including the quadrupling of visitors to the National Gallery online, and aspects such as long video works that the Mori Art Museum may prefer to display online in future. British Council (UK in Japan event recording)
British Museum seeks museum partners for new cultural co-design project for young people
The British Museum is launching a new project for young people aged 16 – 24 to co-design meaningful local arts and cultural projects around the UK. ‘Where we are…’ is supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, and will run from 2021 – 25, with the aim of giving young people agency within their own communities. The British Museum is now seeking museum, culture and third sector partners to deliver the project across the four UK nations. Successful partners will recruit ten young people to their groups and shape the development and the delivery of the programme with shared decision-making throughout the process. For young people, the provisional plan is for a commitment of around 40 hours over six months, scheduled to fit around work and study. They will be paid a £30 stipend per session plus up to £10 for travel. The programme will particularly look to recruit from youth groups under-served by museums, including those who are disabled, from working class backgrounds, having a migrant or refugee experience, ethnically diverse or LGBTQI+. The deadline for applying to be a participating museum for the first year of delivery is 5pm on 22nd March. Contact project lead Sophie Alonso, with any enquiries: [email protected]. British Museum, British Museum (application form for museum partners), Museums Journal
ResearchSpace Community – try out a new collection research / management system
The British Museum has produced a new system, ResearchSpace Community, that allows collections to be connected to historical, social and community knowledge. Supporting the complexity of knowledge generation, it connects researchers, cultural heritage professionals, and community groups, and can capture currently under-represented information in layers of semantic data, alongside all the usual processes for collections management. The British Museum is now seeking regional or local museums interested in trying out the system. Contact Dominic Oldman, [email protected] for more details. The project is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and is free open-source community software. It is natively Linked Data allowing institutions to join the Linked Data community without expensive customisations and is designed for non-technical users and low operating costs. ResearchSpace
Reassessing the past - and monuments for the future
Members announced for London’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm
A 15 member panel has been announced for the Mayor of London’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm, which will survey statues, street signs and other infrastructure in London, to look at gaps in commemoration. Members of the group include actor Riz Ahmed, former National Portrait Gallery Director Sandy Nairne, presenter and curator Aindrea Emelife and Director of Art on the Underground Eleanor Pinfield,. The panel will particularly focus on expanding representation of BAME, women, disabled and LGBTQ+ people, in a diverse city, where the public realm still largely reflects Victorian Britain. The Mayor’s office comments that “The Commission is not being established to preside over the removal of statues.” Art Newspaper, Museums Journal, Arts Professional, Mayor of London (biographies of panel)
Also: A new national campaign, InVisiblewomen, was convened in January to call attention to the fact that there are only 25 public statues of women who are not queens or princesses in the UK. The group is now calling for gender equality in the UK’s civic statues. Guardian
Roundtable event convened by DCMS to discuss ‘retain and explain’ with heritage bodies and museums
The Culture Secretary has hosted a roundtable event to discuss recent debates about statues and other memorials in the public realm and reiterate its ‘retain and explain’ policy. Representatives of national museums present at the meeting included Sir Ian Blatchford, Chair of NMDC, who does not think that debate over statues will interfere with museums’ curatorial decisions. In a Telegraph article discussing the meeting he said “I’m happy to report that the importance of independence was underlined, not underminedat the meeting. There is no desire to meddle in the thousands of curatorial decisions that museums make every day.” He added that offering a complex picture of the past through museum collections is not a ‘new fad’ but their daily business, adding “visitors to the Science Museum want to know both about the great engineering achievements of James Watt and the fact that he was involved in trafficking a young black man, and the same visitors can make their own judgments.”
However, there has also been disquiet, with sculptor Nick Hornby and artist Bob and Roberta Smith among numerous voices from the cultural world objecting to the principle of DCMS intervention ahead of the widely-discussed meeting. On 'retain and explain' Hornby said “in terms of re-contextualising a statue, a simple small-scale label won’t suffice. How can a tiny plaque compete with a monument?” MA Director Sharon Heal said “the arm’s length principle and Code of Ethics are clear; it is not for ministers to impose what constitutes a legitimate subject for investigation or what the outcome of that research might be.” Two former Culture Ministers, now both in the House of Lords, have also been critical of recent Government action in the area. Ed Vaizey “I’m very concerned by the direction of travel of the government’s ‘anti-woke’ agenda…It will have damaging long-term consequences if what were once curatorial decisions are taken over by ministers.” Chris Smith, Culture Minister in the Blair Government said that the arm’s length principle is ‘vitally important’ and that the Government is in danger of putting that at risk. At the roundtable the Culture Secretary proposed new guidelines for the culture and heritage sectors on the 'retain and explain' policy, and an announcement of next steps is expected from DCMS shortly. Art Newspaper (Vaizey, Smith), Telegraph (Blatchford), Museums Journal, Apollo magazine (Vaizey), Twitter (Dowden), Art Newspaper, Apollo magazine (Charles Saumarez Smith)
Assessing public attitudes: 73% back National Trust exploration of empire and slavery
Wider public attitudes to debates about statues of public figures, and how society should view issues of slavery and empire may be less polarised than debates make them appear. Research last year by Policy Exchange found that the 47% opposed the felling of Colston’s statue, compared to 24% who supported it and 24% who neither supported nor opposed – and in general the public does not support the removal of statues. However, asked whether the National Trust should do more to educate the public about their properties’ links to slavery and colonialism, 76% agreed, with 13% who said it should not and 11% who did not know. Meanwhile, historian Sir Richard Evans points out how attitudes have shifted over a relatively short period, with the number of survey respondents believing that ‘the British empire is something to be proud of’ halving between 2014 (59%) and March 2020 (32%). However, this is likely to be a shift towards nuance rather than a single pro or anti reaction. Evans suggests “the decline in retrospective imperial pride over the past few years surely reflects a more differentiated, more sophisticated attitude towards it”.New Statesman (Sir Richard Evans), Policy Exchange (survey)
Bank of England and Lloyds of London among bodies reassessing their history
The Bank of England is going ahead with a review of images of former governors with connections to slavery, “to ensure none with any such involvement in the slave trade remain on display anywhere in the Bank”. Although the Bank was not directly involved in the trade, around 25 governors and directors in the 18th and 19th century were slave owners. Lloyds of London is also advertising for a historian to review its collections. It said "as society evolves, it is right and proper for us to take a look at those symbols and artefacts and make a decision as to whether or not what they stand for reflects where we are.Of course, it is important to fully understand history, but we must do so in a way that reflects changing sentiments and societal views as we more fully understand that history - the good, and the bad."Art Newspaper, Telegraph
Also: Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has written to the City of London, advising it not to go ahead with its existing plans to remove the statues of two 17th century figures who profited from slavery, as the Corporation has previously announced that it would do. In response, the City of London has now halted its immediate plans and will evaluate its options until September. Gov.uk (Jenrick letter), OnLondon, Yahoo
New Passivhaus building at Hull Maritime project will use heating equivalent to a 'small domestic plug-in heater’
A new two-storey building planned at the Hull Maritime project to act as a visitor centre for the sidewinder trawler ‘Arctic Corsair’ will make energy savings of around 90%, and has been described by Hull City Council as “one of the most energy efficient buildings in the UK’s cultural and heritage sector”. The 500m² Passivhaus building will use heat exchangers to stay warm in winter and cool in summer. Even on winter days with no sun warming the building, it will be able to heat the exhibition area with energy equivalent to one small domestic plug-in heater. The project is expected to be completed by 2023. M + H, Museums Journal, Hull Daily Mail
Also: Julie's Bicyle has published a new briefing on how to 'price in' carbon for the cultural sector. Julie's Bicycle
13 museums sign up to the No Going Back peer learning programme
Happy Museum’s No Going Back programme, for museums which would like to meaningfully address the climate emergency, has launched with 13 participating museums. These include museums of all sizes, from Cornwall Museums Partnership, to Scarborough Museums Trust, Saltaire World Heritage Education Association and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and also Museum of Zoology at University of Cambridge Museums. These will use a peer learning approach, mixing learning meetings with practical action. Scarborough Museums Trust’s Christine Rostron said “we recognise that we operate in one of the most important coastal regions in Europe and are lucky enough to have extremely important geological and natural history collections. We are especially keen to use these objects to tell stories about the environment and support local children to learn to love their natural surroundings and to be advocates for positive environmental change.”Happy Museum, M + H
National Trust deploys tiny wasps and pheromones as it pilots ecological approach to pests
Like many heritage sites, Bickling Hall in Norfolk has had a rise in pest damage to its collections during lockdown, especially from moths. Now the National Trust is using it as a pilot site for a more ecological approach to limiting damage, placing moth pheromone tabs around the property to disrupt mating. It will also place card dispensers full of the microscopic ‘parasitoid’ wasp, Trichogramma evanescens strategically in drawers and rooms around the house. These do not pose a risk to humans or other animals. David Loughlin, owner of Historyonics, which supplied this approach said “there has been a global move to adopt biological techniques to manage pests of food crops, so this is a natural development to adopt similar tools to manage the pests threatening our valuable national heritage.” Results are due in the autumn, and will be presented at the 2021 Pest Odyssey conference. M + H, National Trust, Pest Odyssey
Former IKEA building in Coventry to become major art store and museum
Coventry City Council has announced that it will go ahead with the purchase of the former IKEA building in the city, to transform the seven-storey structure into a major site to store and display works from national art collections. This will include 8,000 works from the Arts Council Collection and 8,500 works from The British Council Collection. Some local collections from the transport museum, and collections currently held at Whitefriars Monastery will also be transferred to the site – freeing the monastery to be opened as a tourist attraction for the public. Once it has purchased the leasehold, Coventry Council will invest £1.3m in the site, as part of the long-term reimagining and regeneration of the city. Coventry’s year as City of Culture begins in May this year – although work will not begin at the IKEA site until May 2022 for an opening in August 2023, it will be part of a long-term legacy for the city. Councillor David Welsh, cabinet member for culture and the arts, said “a national Collections Centre would bring together the foremost national arts and cultural partners and their respective national collections alongside the city’s collections, to create a consolidated national base that would be at the heart of Coventry city centre.”BBC, ITV, ALVA, Coventry Observer, Art Newspaper
Domestic tourism at the heart of a £5m plan to reopen Central London
London lost around £11bn in domestic and international tourism spend in 2020 due to the pandemic. Now Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced that the city will put domestic tourism at the centre of its recovery plans, and will invest £5m to support the reopening of Central London. Responding to the announcement, Director of ALVA Bernard Donoghue said “tourism is one of London's largest and most economically significant sectors, and we need our cultural attractions, theatres, pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels to reopen safely and sustainably to welcome back domestic and inbound visitors.” Plans being evolved by the City of London also reflect this, as expressed in a new report ‘Culture and Commerce: Fuelling Creative Renewal’. Its plans include a festival or showcase of cultural events in the city once restrictions are finally lifted. Mayor of London, Arts Professional, City of London (report), City AM
Historic England launches £7.4m cultural programme to support and revive high streets
Historic England has announced the launch of a £7.4m Cultural Programme running to 2024, to support and enliven high streets across the country. The work in partnership with NLHF and ACE is part of the wider £95m High Street Heritage Zone initiative, funded by DCMS and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The programme has begun with the release of a series of ‘High Street Tales’ podcasts, featuring local areas from North Shields to Hastings and Leicester, mixing history, fiction and folklore, with new episodes planned until the end of March. Other strands include:
Future of the High Street – 10 short films by contemporary film-makers
Twin Towns: contemporary artists produce work linking towns in different areas which have a common outlook and experience
Six immersive Sound Walks created in partnership with the National Trust
A three year photography commission, capturing the changing face of high streets and running to 2024.
Research finds that cultural visitors in Surrey spend an additional £40 on the high street
Research based on pre-pandemic activity has shown how visitors to cultural sites increase spending at local leisure and retail businesses. 70% of those travelling to either the Lightbox Gallery and Museum, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre or Watt's Gallery Artists' Village in Surrey said they would not have come into town without a cultural venue as an objective. Additionally, for every £10 spent on culture, they averaged a further £13.28 locally, and extra local spend per person came in at just under £40. Meanwhile, research on the cessation of the Lightbox’s health and wellbeing programme suggests that dementia patients are faring less well without access, and that there will be greater demand for this type of work as the sector reopens. Arts Professional
Also: Bolton will receive £22.9m through the Town Fund, which it plans to spend on a transformation of its centre. Plans include a redevelopment of Bolton Central Library, Museum and Archive as well as greening the area and developing flexible workspaces for business. Bolton Council
Art Fund reaches £1m target in fundraiser for museums, and plans to keep going
The Art Fund has reached its £1m target in its public fundraiser for museums impacted by the pandemic. 4,500 contributors received limited-edition works donated by artists including Jeremy Deller, Lubaina Himid, Anish Kapoor, Cornelia Parker and David Shrigley. Art Fund has said that the fundraiser will remain open for a little longer to raise further funds. Art Fund Director Jenny Waldman added “we are humbled that so many have put their hand in their own pocket at this time of uncertainty to help us pass our target of £1m. It will make a huge difference to museums who receive this funding later this year.” M + H,Art Fund
NLHF reopens its grants programme up to £5m with inclusion, jobs and the environment among its priorities
The National Lottery Heritage Fund is opening its Grants for Heritage fund for 2021 – 22, offering between £3k and £5m. In the light of Covid-19 it has revised its priorities, and is particularly looking to fund work which helps the local economy, encourages skills development and job creation, supports wellbeing, creates better places to live, work and visit and improves the resilience of organisations working in heritage. Every application will also need to demonstrate how it will broaden the range of people working in heritage and build environmental sustainability. Organisations also need to show that they have considered the Covid-19 pandemic, and that issues such as continued social distancing will not make a project unviable. There is separate guidance depending on the level of grant, £3k - £10k; £10k - £250k and £250k - £5m. NLHF, M + H
National Trust receives £3m for conservation projects for its 125th anniversary
The US-based Royal Oak Foundation has gifted the National Trust £3m to honour its 125th birthday, which will be spent on a major programme of conservation over the next five years. Japanese samurai armour, nine early 17th century ‘sgabello’ chairs and an oil painting of Sir John Maitland are among the items to receive conservation. The National Trust itself established the Royal Oak Foundation in 1973, to raise awareness among US audiences, a move which has now provided vital support as the Trust faces pandemic-related job losses and funding cuts. National Trust, M + H
Art Fund gives an overview of its pandemic recovery funding
The Art Fund has published a quantitative overview of the Recovery Funding it gave to small and medium sized museums from July – September 2020, in partnership with Museums Development UK. The Art Fund contributed £280k, matched by £252k from museum development bodies representing nine English regions, plus Museums Galleries Scotland; the Welsh Federation of Museums and Arts Galleries and Northern Ireland Museums Council. The funding was targeted to sustain museums that had not been able to obtain support from other major recovery funds. Figures show that:
156 out of 194 applicants were successful, or over 80% by institution, but meeting only 68% of the monetary support applied for.
Grants ranged from £250 – £10,000 and the average grant award was £2,688.
The most popular uses for the funding were Covid-19 safe reopening (63%), digital interpretation (25%) and programming for schools (25%) – with some funding asks falling into more than one category,
Art Fund comments “the investment programme supported organisational resilience and helped museums to re-open safely and effectively, to meet audience needs and expectations and to develop a sustainable offer for the future.”Art Fund
BCLM to develop 1940s – 60s site with its share of £13.5m from the Capital Kickstart Fund
NLHF has announced the 22 recipients of its £13.5m Capital Kickstart Fund, with funding designed to offset delays or increased costs around regeneration and maintenance work because of the pandemic. Black Country Living Museum receives the largest sum at £3.74m to support creating new historical areas covering the 1940s – 60s plus a new visitor centre. Beamish, the Living Museum of the North will receive £975.5k towards the completion of its ‘Remaking Beamish’ project, expanding its 1820s area, and creating a 1950s town and farm. Other recipients include Museum of the Home (£692k), Lincoln Cathedral (£692k), Bevis Marks Synagogue (£497k) and North Yorkshire Moors Historic Railway Trust (£296k). NLHF, Gov.uk, Bdaily News
Welsh Government gives £6.2m to protect National Museum and the National Library of Wales
The Welsh Government has given Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales an additional £3.95m over two years to 2022, as well as £2.25m to the National Library of Wales. Deputy Culture Miinister Lord Elis-Thomas said the money would “protect jobs and to ensure the sustainability of these two bodies which are responsible for caring for our national collections on behalf of the people of Wales”. Arts Professional, Arts Industry, Guardian
Philanthropists give to support wage equity at the Baltimore Museum of Art
Last year the Baltimore Museum of Art backed down from a plan to sell $65m in art, with an intention to spend the money on equity, inclusion and other initiatives rather than collecting. Now philanthropists have stepped in with support towards some of the museum’s inclusion objectives. Jeffrey A. and Harriet Legum are donating $110k which will raise the hourly wage of 50 staff from $13.50 to $15; and Eileen Harris Norton has donated $1m to more generally finance diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion. Director Christopher Bedford said “we feel more confident and more right about our direction than we ever have… We’re becoming even more ambitious. It was a disappointment that we couldn’t proceed with those sales, but it’s done nothing to diminish our commitment.” The BMA will continue to work with consultants at The Empathetic Museum to create an institution-wide equity roadmap. Art Newspaper, BMA (press release), The Empathetic Museum
Prior to third lockdown, Kettle’s Yard filmed the Maxwell Quartet playing music to celebrate 50 years of the gallery’s association with music. Ranging from Haydn to a piece inspired by Samuel Beckett and the Scottish folk number ‘Drunk at Night, Dry in the Morning’, it is varied, uplifting, beautifully filmed and online until March 25th as a fundraiser for the gallery. Kettle’s Yard
Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy looks at the prospects for post-Covid fundraising
The latest edition of Art Fundraising & Philanthropy’s magazine ‘Now, New, Next’ looks in detail at the prospects for fundraising as the country takes steps towards emerging from the pandemic. A series of essays highlight some of the factors to consider:
It argues that the factors that will deter returning audiences on reopening can be summarised as ‘Fear, Finance and Not Fussed’ – with under 35s most likely to lack money and respond to price incentives, while venues can address the fear factor at least to some extent with good safety processes and good communications.
Digital will remain essential, with the ‘Giving from a Distance’ report emphasising the importance of donating this way.
The effects of cultural organisations being seen to take practical action, such as food delivery and frontline social work, will affect how they are perceived long after the pandemic. ‘Giving from a Distance’ argues “forget well-meaning creative. Being seen to act and be part of the response – through services and fundraising – is the best you can do for your brand”.
Community engagement can be a lifeline for a venue’s survival. The Brunel Museum is cited as one venue that was upfront with its audiences about its economic jeopardy when it launched a crisis appeal in 2020. As well as raising money, crowdfunders can also consolidate a sense of loyalty between venues and audiences in the longer term.
Audiences are likely to be comfortable with returning to cultural venues before they feel secure on public transport, making it important to develop local visitors.
The ‘stop-go’ unpredictability around opening and what types of work can go ahead is likely to continue. Marketing and communications should address this honestly, and it can be done positively, perhaps with ‘a festival-style, pop-up, experimental attitude… in the way this is communicated.’ It is also a good time for marketing to tell a wider, values led story.
Organisations have looked to respond to Black Lives Matter with varying degrees of success, and with some campaigns misfiring because of a lack of underlying change. However, organisations are rewarded where there is a genuine commitment to anti-racism, from diversifying teams, to getting language right and moving past tokenism.
There will be a longer term rethinking for organisations about what sits on the liability and asset side of the balance sheet, particularly around buildings and office space.
Also: The risk of reputational damage from poorly controlled social distancing was highlighted when images emerged of crowding in Vatican Museums with one visitor complaining of an ‘absolute lack of respect for safety rules’, although Director Barbara Jatta argues that it was ‘by no means so dramatic’. artnet, Art Newspaper
National Theatre shelves EU touring plans as post-Brexit visa problems continue for creatives
The National Theatre has announced that it will not be pursuing its planned tour of Europe when the pandemic is over, due to ongoing visa difficulties following Brexit. A spokeswoman said "the potential additional costs for visas and current lack of clarity around social security contributions as a result of the [Brexit] deal means regrettably it is currently not financially viable.” The announcement is significant in showing that even a relatively large, well-resourced organisation struggling with cost and complexity under current rules. A campaign led by stars including Sir Elton John, Sir Ian McKellen and Julie Walters has continued to press for a resolution, pointing to the ‘cost and bureaucracy that now comes with hiring British talent’. In early March Caroline Dinenage gave a statement on the current situation saying “we are now working urgently across government and in collaboration with the music and wider creative industries to understand our sector's concerns. This includes the DCMS-led working group which brings together other government departments and sector leads to understand the impacts and consider options so that touring in Europe can resume with ease as soon as it is safe to do so.”BBC, NME, Guardian, Politics Home, Politico, Independent, Parliament UK, Parliament UK
Kids in Museums offer resources to create a better welcome for families, and play ideas for socially distanced reopening
Previous museum research into what deters families from visiting reveals issues such as fear of unwelcoming staff, being judged for children’s behaviour and practical issues such as buggy access. Meanwhile, some staff and volunteers fear ‘getting it wrong’ and not being on top of safeguarding issues. In response, Kids in Museums has published a new guide, with practical advice for a good welcome – from simply saying ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ to a child in the party, to tactful and friendly ways to intervene if that is needed to keep collections safe. It also recommends investing in simple resources e.g. spare nappies to deal with an emergency and family resource packs. Kids in Museums has also developed a set of Playful Museums case studies, designed for a socially distanced world by Charlotte Derry and Play KX and tested out in 11 museums across the UK at half term during October 2020. Kids in Museums recently reached 1,000 signups to its Manifesto. Kids in Museums (welcome guidance), Kids in Museums (play resources), M + H
Hearts for the Arts winners announced, including radio programme and play kit distribution
The National Campaign for the Arts has announced the five winners of its annual Hearts for the Arts Awards, which celebrate cultural work supported by local authorities. Among the five winners for the pandemic year was a radio programme created by schoolchildren in Haringey, the local council, Kick it Out and RoughHouse Theatre. London Borough of Wandsworth also won with a project to distribute 3,000 creative playkits for children aged 6 - 10. Campaign for the Arts
VisitBritain has launched a new sentiment tracker, the first to chart the intentions of inbound tourists since the pandemic began. The Wave One tracker showed that 70% of respondents would consider travel in 2021, with 13% considering Britain as an option. However, most plans to visit are in early stages, with Scotland regarded as the safest place to visit, followed by Wales, then England. VisitBritain
Meanwhile the latest wave of VisitBritain’s tracker of the domestic audience, covering 8th – 12th February, shows a 10% leap in the belief that ‘the worst has passed’ (now 29%) compared with 50% who think things will remain the same. A third of those surveyed intend to take the same number of short breaks as usual, or more, by the end of June. Visit Britain
ONS figures on tourism running from the beginning of lockdown to November 2020 show that although domestic and international flights only rose to about a third of pre-pandemic numbers under reduced restrictions in August 2020, Eurotunnel non-commercial passenger vehicle traffic recovered much better at over two thirds of normal summer numbers. ONS
The Insights Alliance has given a webinar on January 2020 findings about cultural audiences. With a dataset skewing to an older audience base outside London, confidence in returning to cultural experiences was at the lowest point seen so far in the data as of the end of January. Figures show that:
Audience sentiment is overwhelmingly uncomfortable with ordinary seating arrangements in arts venues and a lack of face masks.
52% were not planning to book within the next six months – however researchers expect this to shift.
35% are waiting for a vaccine before they return to venues, 11% will return immediately on reopening – but 29% would consider a visit if persuaded that sufficient protections are in place.
The act of reattending greatly increases confidence – from 40% pre-visit to 80% immediately after a visit had taken place. Hence, once audiences have taken the initial leap, they are much more likely to reattend.
Interest in digital cultural events among audiences has been consistent across the pandemic, with 10% very interested and around a third interested. There is not a large differential across age groups.
A quarter of people say they will continue to pay for events online once the cultural sector reopens, and around 60% who would consider online if they can’t see things live – so barriers of geography and convenience will continue to have an effect post-pandemic.
V&A opens ‘a bit of a rabbit hole’ into 1.2m objects with its new digital platform
After two years of development, V&A has launched its new digital platform ‘Explore the Collections’ featuring 1.2 million objects, spanning 5,000 years of art, design and performance. This means that more than half of V&A’s 2.3 million holdings are now digitised. The new approach is more ‘fluid and story-led’, allowing audiences to search for specific objects, or receive recommendations based on their interests. The objects also come with related information: for example, Mary Quant’s 1962 ‘Georgie’ dress comes complete with a downloadable sewing pattern for those who want to replicate the look. In its press statement, V&A said that the new platform is a step towards ‘revolutionising access to national collections’ which it will take further when its new collections and research centre, V&A East opens, which will be “an entirely new cultural experience and the first of its kind in the UK”. V&A’s Head of Digital Media and Publishing, Kati Price adds “we hope it’s a bit of a rabbit hole to get lost in the collection because there are so many wonderful stories that can be told.” Art Newspaper, V&A (new collections site), V&A (press release), Museums Journal
Communicating Archaeology – case studies for engaging with collections
The Society for Museum Archaeology has published a new report ‘Communicating Archaeology’ offering case studies in how archaeological collections are used in museums, both for exhibitions, events and co-production with the public. Highlighted projects include:
The Lost Landscapes project run by Museums Worcestershire, which through touring and static exhibitions, artwork, talks and workshops helped visitors to imagine the area 1000 generations before the present, and to link that enormous change to modern climate concerns.
Leeds Museums and Galleries ran a consultation ‘Should we display the dead?’ seeking public input into ethical discussion of if, when and how museums should hold human remains for display and/or research.
The work of the Access Advisory Group at the Horniman Museum on the redisplay of anthropology collections, both to make them more accessible to disabled people, and to acknowledge the presence of disabled people across all parts of history and prehistory.
Report editors Gail Boyle and Jenni Butterworth comment “these case studies are a celebration of creativity, whetherthat be in the face of Covid-19, the advent of new technologies or changing societal,professional and organisational attitudes. They demonstrate how archaeological collections…are at the forefront of proactively promoting change…Archaeology not only has the capacity to change the narrative about the way people think about the world but also the capacity to change the way they think about themselves.” Society for Museum Archaeology
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