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Museums Policy Context. ……………………………………. April 29, 2010. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………........ Museums – policy context Nathan Lee. The challenge. Sector exists in complex social, political, economic and public management environment, and always has Changing user expectations

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Museums policy context

Museums Policy Context


April 29, 2010


Museums – policy context Nathan Lee

The challenge
The challenge

  • Sector exists in complex social, political, economic and public management environment, and always has

  • Changing user expectations

  • Key skill is to understand that environment and adapt accordingly


  • The only thing in life which is certain is change

  • Survival of the fittest

  • Continuous improvement is essential

  • Once you stop changing you are finished

Addressing the context
Addressing the context

Work from our strengths

  • Professionals and their professionalism

  • Powerful stories

  • Positively serving people and communities

  • A track record of innovation and delivery

    Understand the changes and plan accordingly

Understanding social changes
Understanding social changes

Example: Ageing society – complex implications for:

  • Lifelong learning

  • Participation

  • Volunteering

Declining funding
Declining funding

“The next spending review will be the toughest for 20 years”

Alistair Darling, Chancellor of the Exchequer, January 2010

“"We are not talking about swingeing cuts"

David Cameron, Leader of the Opposition, February 2010

Financial instability
Financial instability

  • The recession officially ended in the UK on 26th January – but with 0.1% growth full recovery is expected to take a long time

  • More public spending cuts are inevitable (30% smaller by 2015?)

  • Sponsorship has decreased – or been put on hold

  • Philanthropy and donations have been drastically reduced

  • Reduced commercial opportunities

Cultural services and declining resources
Cultural services and declining resources

“The main area highlighted was cultural and leisure services, including art galleries, tourism and sports development. A survey published in April 2008, found that 50 per cent of local authorities would cut sport and leisure services if they needed to save money.”

Audit Commission, The impact of the economic downturn on local government finances, December 2008

Adapting to social change the sector and people
Adapting to social change - the sector and people

  • Taking Part, the national survey of participation in culture and sport, has trend data dating back to 2005/06.

  • Participation in museums, galleries and archives has remained broadly stable.

Participation is of interest to government
Participation is of interest to government

  • Public sector agreements key targets for government, PSA21 is to “Build more cohesive, empowered and active communities” measured in part by target to “increase the percentage of adults (aged 16 and over) who participate in culture or sport by 2010/11”.

  • Local government performance indicators measure adult participation in libraries and museums. Of 150 top tier local authorities:

    • 4 have shown increase in museum use but none in the North West;

    • 115 have shown no change in museum use; and

    • 31 have shown a decrease in museum use, - 4 in the North West with one dropping below the national average.

Participation how the sector relates to people and communities
Participation – how the sector relates to people and communities

  • Society changes, and the sector has to keep pace if it is to remain relevant and sustain participation

  • Complex challenge, which may be international in scope – US The National Endowment for the Arts recently published the sixth in a series of surveys it has conducted since 1982 that seek to measure public participation in the arts found a notable decline in theatre, museum and concert attendance and other “benchmark” cultural activities between 2002 and 2008.

Changing public management
Changing public management communities

  • More for less

  • Shift to outcome-based performance management

  • Localism

  • Community engagement and empowerment

  • Personalisation

  • Entitlement and accountability

Comprehensive area assessment
Comprehensive Area Assessment communities

  • Green “flags” awarded for

    • good outcomes

    • innovation shown

  • Red ‘’flags’’ indicate concerns

  • Red flags - opportunity to

    • contribute and position as an essential part of quality of life

Changing public management implications
Changing public management implications communities

  • The importance of working in partnership

    • With organisations

    • With communities

    • With individuals

    • National and regional

  • Convergence of organisations

  • Continued review of governance

Changing public management implications1
Changing public management implications communities

  • Digital developments

    • Access to services

    • Opening up collections

    • Knowledge sharing

    • Engagement

    • Co-production

    • Reducing costs

Opportunities communities

  • Remain innovative and creative – our sector has access to the history of the world – let’s learn from it!

  • Develop an entrepreneurial approach – work with what resources you have and think laterally about how to use them

  • Research what works – impact and value for money

  • Use that evidence to create ongoing, mutually sustainable partnerships

The strategic commissioning example
The strategic communitiescommissioning example

  • “If the sector could access just 0.5% of the health, children’s services and social care budgets through the commissioning process it would be the equivalent to a 45% increase in the local government budget for culture and sport. At a time of squeezing budgets this is quite an opportunity.” Martyn Alison, IDeA

  • Strength that partnership working offers

  • Creating better outcomes for people against Local Authority priorities

The path of travel
The path of travel communities

Core Funding



Outcomes focussed

Matching Local


Partnership and

Corporate Objectives

‘The Golden Thread’

Core Funding Reduced

More for Less

What can we be

Commissioned to

do for other agendas?

Future support for regional museums
Future Support for Regional Museums communities

National Museums working regionally

New Renaissance:

  • Core Museums

  • Challenge Funding

  • Museum Development Support (MDOs)

  • National Programmes

    Coordinated package of support to the regional museums

Mla s support
MLA’s support communities

  • MLA offers a variety of ways to support your service:

    • Strategic advice and guidance

    • Standards: Accreditation and Designation

    • Peer review

    • Benchmarking toolkits

    • Research briefings – data and evidence

    • Workshops

    • Developing partnerships

    • Local Government Improvement

    • Advocacy statements and briefings

    • Good practice case studies – learn from each other

How the sector adds value
How the sector adds value communities

  • Health and wellbeing

    • Heritage in Hospitals

  • Positive activities for young people

    • Young people as volunteers

  • Safer and stronger communities

    • Embrace – NML and Salford – refugees and asylum seekers

  • Equality – bridging the gap

    • Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Attributes of good practice
Attributes of good practice communities

  • Services which are loved by their communities – communication and community-led development is vital

    • Sheffield Weston Park Museum

  • Localised services – adapting governance and resources to best suit market needs

    • Luton Cultural Trust, Wigan Leisure and Cultural Trust, Touchstones – Rochdale, Salford Community Leisure Ltd

  • Alert to opportunities

    • Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust

  • Work in partnerships – but not always with the usual suspects

    • NML and Merseycare NHS Trust