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What could the election result mean for culture and heritage?

What could the election result mean for culture and heritage?

Let’s talk about Thursday…

With the 2017 election nearly upon us, it is time to consider what the results might mean for the museums and heritage sector.

In the Red: what will Labour do for culture?

£1 billion Cultural Capital Fund

To be administrated by Arts Council England, the Cultural Capital Fund would be used for a variety of things including upgrading current cultural infrastructure to be ready for the digital age, investing in Cultural Clusters, and a focus on revenue intake for museums. Some of the fund would also be focused on low engagement areas where new museums could be built with national, or local focuses.

End to the Conservative Cuts

A promise to stop the cuts that have been increasing in number under the Conservative government, tied in with the promise of new funding opportunities.

Sector Specific Careers Advice

Creating a sector specific careers advice campaign to increase the number of individuals who want to pursue a career in the arts.

Arts Pupil Premium

£106 million per year boost to Primary School funding to improve access to cultural activities in the long term.

Brexit and Museums

Workforce will be a key focus of negotiations. This may allow for softer regulations on workers from other nations who are already in the UK. The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport will be included in the Brexit cabinet.

In the Blue: what will the Conservatives do for culture?

More support for the Arts outside of London

A greater emphasis will be placed upon ensuring that funding reaches out of the metropolis.

Maintaining free entry

Free entry into national museums will be maintained.

Cultural development fund

An unspecified fund will be created to be used to turn around communities, including access to the arts.

Work with national museums to share information

Extending the expertise of national museums so that other museums share their research and knowledge.

Brexit and Museums

A hard stance will be taken on Brexit, including for those of other nationalities already working in the UK.

Budget Continuation

This indicates that budget cuts will continue into the new government.

If the country votes red…

The creation of a specific culture manifesto has allowed us to dig deeper into Labour’s very ambitious plans for the future.

The Cultural Capital Fund would provide an opportunity for many museums to benefit from increased funding options, particularly those looking to expand their revenue potential. The creation of new museums would create new jobs in the sector, potentially aiding in diversifying the sector, and would enable a broader spectrum of the community to access the arts. Investment in digital technology would aid in updating museums, but it is unclear whether the fund would cover such large investments completely.

Diversifying the sector is a key focus for major organisations. The development of a Sector Specific Careers Advice Campaign would enable students across the country to consider the arts as a career path, aiding in developing diverse sector employment.

The Arts Pupil Premium might increase the potential for schools to utilise their local museums and galleries, opening the cultural door to many who might otherwise feel excluded from visiting.

Focusing on workforce as a key detail for Brexit negotiations is vital for the museums sector if we are to maintain our reputation for employing international expertise within our museums. The inclusion of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on the Brexit cabinet is vital for the sector. Tom Watson, currently the Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, as well as being Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, has clearly understood the importance of the sector and its well-being in relation to the Brexit deals.

  • For the East Midlands this means that many small museums could benefit from increased access to funding, particularly those wanting to increase their revenue by creating/expanding shops and cafes. A more diverse range of staff could be found with help from sector specific careers advice, helping those who are struggling to recruit diversely develop their staff. The Arts Pupil Premium would make a distinct difference to all museums and art galleries, as local schools would be able to build strong links with local organisations, increasing visits too. The implications of Brexit, although likely to be more hard hitting for National Museums, will affect local museums too – whether it be their staff or their funding, there are various ways in which museums will need to adapt so the consideration of culture in any Brexit deal is vital to local museums too.


If the country votes blue…

Focusing support outside of the capital would increase the potential for more organisations to benefit from governmental support, although existing budget cuts look to be continuing into the new government.

A Cultural Development Fund, as with the Cultural Capital Fund, would provide a lot of potential for sites across the country, although how much of this would be spent on museums and galleries is not clear. Developing communities may allow for a diversified visitor spectrum, although whether this would influence employment within the sector would not be clear for years to come. No provision for low engagement has been made, limiting the potential increase in resilience that this might provide for some museums.

Developing the capacity to share knowledge from national museums could be a valuable asset to many smaller museums, although its relevance might be questionable in times of such austerity. Although sharing expertise would be beneficial to all, potentially aiding museum resilience well, whether such expertise will still be as a widely available is unclear when considering the potential loss of expertise caused by ‘hard’ Brexit negotiations.

  • For the East Midlands, alternative funding options might appear if the government focuses on locations outside of London, although when considering the effects of local authority cuts already, it could be too little too late. Any extra funding that could become available to museums in the East Midlands is a bonus, but it is unclear whether small museums will have the capacity to access such a fund as the Cultural Development Fund. Sharing knowledge from national museums may be a real boost for local museums – although they will never have the capacity that national museums have, there may be the potential to adapt knowledge to help develop smaller museums workforce skills.


Of course, there are other parties in the running but their cultural manifestoes are less clear.

For the museums and heritage sector, quite frankly, there is a lot of potential – how the government chooses to act upon their promises however will not be known for a long time after Friday morning!

Written by Hollie Davison, Project Manager

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