The Art Fund's response to the Autumn Statement and Spending Review

  • 26 November 2015

Our director, Stephen Deuchar, responds to George Osborne's announcement yesterday.

'We welcome today’s announcement that funding for the UK’s national museums and galleries will be maintained at a level that represents a cut of only 5-7% in real terms (allowing for inflation), especially if this helps to maintain the provision of free admission. The funding for capital projects and for the Arts Council, including increased access to collections currently in storage and greater operational freedoms, is also positive news. We look forward to responding to further details as they unfold.

'With over 71 million visitors to the UK’s national and regional museums alone last year, there has never been a greater appetite for art and culture in the UK and we appreciate the recognition by the Chancellor of the specific economic as well as wider benefits of the arts.

'However, today’s statement is just the beginning, as it is the forthcoming local authority settlements that will determine the fate of the majority of the UK’s museums and galleries – the hundreds of institutions across the country that are already under-resourced and vulnerable. With early announcements from Lancashire, for example, of the likelihood of five museum closures and charging admission for the remainder, we must work hard to ensure the survival of free cultural provision on everyone’s doorstep – beyond the protected national museums and galleries.'

More reactions to the Spending Review

The Independent

'Former Barbican chief Sir John Tusa said a 5 per cent cut overall was a victory, “as some had expected cuts of up to 20 per cent”. Sir John praised Mr Osborne as a “Chancellor for the arts” and “the only member of the Government who understands arts and culture”. Deep cuts to DCMS were a “false economy,” Mr Osborne said in his statement, as “£1bn a year in grants adds a quarter of a trillion pounds to our economy; not a bad return”.'

Museums Association

'Sharon Heal, the MA’s director, said: “We are pleased that the chancellor recognises that cutting arts funding would be a false economy... However, we remain deeply concerned about the impact of the local authority budget cuts on the UK's civic museums, and on the huge number of people who visit them. We believe that civic and local museums up and down the country will face real difficulties because of local authority funding cuts over the 2015-20 period – particularly those in less well-off areas. 

“Museum closures, job losses and the introduction of charging are happening already. Today’s spending review means that this trend is likely to grow. 

“Our museums play a vital role at the heart of the communities. They preserve our heritage, provide lifelong learning, and improve our wellbeing. We believe that DCMS, DCLG, ACE and the LGA, and the relevant devolved agencies must now work together to ensure that our museums can survive and thrive through this difficult period.”'

The Guardian

'Neil McGregor, who stands down as the director of the British Museum next month, said: “We are delighted that the chancellor has recognised the important role that museums and galleries play in the life of the UK and to Britain’s role in the world.”'

Tags: Museums and galleriesSupporting museums