17:28 04 July 2012
More galleries and museums across the UK are forced to shut down or trim down their opening hours due to budget cuts, a new survey revealed.
22% out of the 114 institutions interviewed by the Museums Association have closed entirely or have ceased operating some parts of their sites within the last 12 months. Services to schools have also suffered a significant decline.
And it seems like the problem could get worse, as Mark Taylor, director of the Museums Association, says that an upturn is not expected anytime soon. “Funding isn’t getting any better and in many cases, it’s getting worse,” he states.
The effects of the budget cuts are heaviest on the smaller, community-based museums. Unfortunately, when these museums start to die, they find it difficult to come back. This is said to have a negative effect on the small towns and communities in the UK.
“These museums are the soul of the towns and villages they are in,” says Taylor.
The more recent museums to close include the Museum of Nottingham Life and the Malton Museum in Ryedale.
There were, however, 2,000 institutions in the UK, which meant that the 114 that were included in the study made up just a small part and did not include the national museums. According to Mr. Taylor, the museums included were those that already “represent a cross section of museums.”
Over half of those who were surveyed also reported that they received a cut in their budgets since last year. 42% of them also had fewer staff, and still a large percentage of them had higher charges for school visits to compensate for the budget cuts. So, with employment budgets dwindling, many of the museums are relying more heavily on volunteers.
69% of the museums interviewed were also planning to generate more income, while 62% were looking at increased fundraisers.
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