Warning over Britain’s ‘cultural deserts’
Parts of Britain risk becoming cultural deserts after 50 museumswere forced to close because of spending cuts, the Museums Association said on Monday.
The 125-year-old Londonbased organisation, the world’s oldest professional body for museums, is bracing itself for more closures as local councils grapple with spending cuts.
Fivemuseumsin the northern English county of Lancashire are the latest to shut their doors to the public, including the world’s only surviving steam-driven cotton weaving shed.
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Alistair Brown, the MA’s policy officer, said: “When you look at a map of where closures have taken Alistair Brown, place it is clear some parts of the country are becoming cultural deserts.
“Since 2010 at least 50 museums have closed and we are expecting more closures in the coming few years. A lot of museums are facing very difficult financial futures, and we are working hard to come up with solutions.”
Brown added: “Museums are very important to our tourism sector, acting as a draw for visitors in many areas. Museums are public-facing institutions which deliver a range of important public benefits. They preserve, protect and promote the nation’s collective memory, knowledge and history.
“In Lancashire we have recently seen the closure of five museums in one swoop. We have never seen a museum service so decimated.”
The government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport is currently carrying out a review of the country’s museums sector. But figures released by DCMS show that since 2010 spending on museums by local councils across the country has fallen by nearly $300 million.
Brown said: “This is the first time the government has comprehensively reviewed museums provision across England.
“The MA believes that a new strategy must recognize the importance of museums to every region, and must respond to growing concerns about the inability of many local authorities to adequately fund cultural services.”
The MA has called for sustained funding for museums, adding that lottery funding administered by the Arts Council of England has been shown to be spent disproportionately in London and in wealthier areas of Britain.
A lot of museums are facing very difficult financial futures, and we are working hard to come up with solutions.” Museums Association policy officer