After the ongoing curious spate of museum directors defections from the UK’s capital in recent times – it is safe to say that we were all bracing ourselves for big cuts in grant-in-aid; but now it seems that we are relieved to hear the chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, has spared our cultural institutions and the Arts Council further damage – at least for the time-being.
Osborne announced yesterday that the Spending Review that the government will, “…help the British Museum, the Science Museum and V&A [Victoria & Albert Museum] move their collections out of storage and on display,” to the tune of £150 million. The Chancellor has therefore confirmed the long-discussed sale of Blythe House, which is a joint store in west London where the three museums store around 2 million objects, it appears that this will now go ahead.
Osborne also stated that the government will find £78 million to fund the Factory Manchester, a Rem Koolhaas-designed arts centre. The chancellor has also agreed to £5 million to help refurbish the Burrell Collection, although the council is responsible for its revenue funding. The director of the Art Fund, Stephen Deuchar, said in a statement to the press that the funding for capital projects and for the Arts Council – which will include increased access to collections currently in storage – was positive news.
Before the announcement of the spending review, national museums were asked by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to model cuts of 25% to 40%. The announcement represents a cut of only 5% to 7% in real terms, allowing for inflation.