Museums Swap Permanent Staff For A Culture Of Interns And Volunteers

It has been reported by the Museums Association that a third of museums and galleries in the UK have cut staff in the last year. Almost half of the institutions have admitted, in the survey, that they have increased their numbers of interns and volunteers to compensate.

The annual report also uncovered a sharp drop amounting to 31% in school visits. 120 museums partook in the survey about staffing over the last year revealing that 21% of museums and galleries have cut staff numbers by more than 10% from July 2012 – July 2013.

“Interns and volunteers have plenty to offer but can never replace skilled, experienced staff,” said Mark Taylor, director of the Museums Association. The Museums Association stated that staff cuts were prompted by a reduction in public investment, which has affected fifty percent of museums and galleries across Britain in the past year. Taylor added: “As the results of the survey show, funding isn’t getting any better and in many cases it’s getting worse. There’s no prospect of an upturn any time soon. But the survey shows increased determination to improve services. That’s a reflection of the strength and commitment of the museum sector and people who work in it.”
The museums association also reported that despite government plans for museums to increase philanthropy, a mere 28% stated that a rise in individual giving had taken place, with 17% of them experiencing a drop in giving.

A spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said that although these were “tough economic times” the latest figures showed visits to museums are at their highest levels ever. The DCMS stated; “Well-run internships can benefit both individuals interested in a career in museums and the organisations themselves. And whilst it is a decision for individual museums, the government encourages all employers to offer financial support so that internships are genuinely open to all young people and not just those from well off backgrounds.”

The Museums Association’s (MA) 2012 survey into the impact of cuts on museums reveals that almost a quarter of museums have closed all or part of their sites to the public, with services to schools also taking a hammering.

22% of museums responding to the survey have been forced to reduce public access by closing whole sites or parts of sites permanently or temporarily, with services to schools also dramatically reduced, posts made redundant, and opening hours reduced.

Over half (51%) of the 114 museums across the UK that responded to the survey reported a cut in their budget since last year.

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