Continued cuts force UK's regional museums to close
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Continued cuts force UK's regional museums to close

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A new study by the Museums+Association'>Museums Association (MA) has revealed that one in five regional museums in the UK have been forced to downsize in the past year by closing a part of their museum to save on costs.

According to the MA’s annual Cuts Survey, one in 10 museums are also expecting to introduce entrance charges to cover cuts in local authority funding. The MA says that a similar number (11 per cent) are considering following the approach of Northampton Museum, which lost its Arts Council England accreditation in 2014 after it sold an Egyptian statue to a private buyer for £15m (US$25m, €18.8m) to fund an extension of the museum and art gallery.

The survey said that since 2010, 44 museums across the UK have been forced to close, with further Closures “inevitable”. In order to avoid this outcome, 8 per cent of those museums surveyed introduced an entry fee in the past year, while a further 12 per cent said they would in 2016.

While the future might be looking bleak for the UK’s regional museums, the survey did point out that while year-on-year public funding had decreased by 2 per cent and income from grants and donations had fallen by 4 per cent, self-generated income from regional museums increased by 6 per cent, indicating an attempt to counter cuts by exploring new commercial opportunities.

“Museums that serve local communities deliver real public benefit and there is a danger that whole areas of the country will have these services wiped out if the cuts continue,” said Sharon Heal, director of the Museums Association.

“We are particularly concerned about the impact of the cuts to local authority funding in the English regions and the devolved nations. The MA will continue to advocate for all museums and the life-changing experiences that they can provide.”

November’s Spending Review offered a small respite by freezing the budgets of the UK’s national museums and of Arts Council England. The outlook was less positive for local authority-run museums however, with the MA predicting an increase in closures, reduced hours and increased charges for the year ahead.

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A new study by the Museums Association (MA) has revealed that one in five regional museums in the UK have been forced to downsize in the past year by closing a part of their museum to save on costs.
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