Friday, 7 September 2007

Funding for major heritage projects to be slashed by £60m

Lottery money for major heritage projects in Britain is set to fall to £20m a year, down from £80m last year. ... The most important reason for the cuts is the London Olympics. Originally HLF was set to lose £143m to help finance the games, but last March a further £90m was taken, making a total of £233m up until 2012.

From The Art Newspaper.

In the same edition of The Art Newspaper, Giles Waterfield, former adviser and a trustee of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) asks "What will happen to Britain’s museums now?":

The HLF is—or has been—the only body in this country capable of making multi-million awards to museums for building projects or acquisitions.


While the Fund will continue to play an important role as a funder, as a result of pressure from the Olympics it will become just one more organisation dispensing helpful, but not crucial, sums to a great variety of bodies including museums. A highly efficient and discriminating funding mechanism is being junked.


England's DCMS never has the funds to make major grants, and apparently never will. The situation is highly ironic since the Blair administration has loved grand gestures such as the Millennium Dome and now the Olympics. Museums, clearly, are not big enough to excite Government interest, in spite of the huge numbers of visitors they attract. While this Government has been quite generous in funding running costs for national museums, over acquisitions and capital projects they have sheltered behind the Lottery. Asked for financial support, whether for building projects or acquisitions, the Department refers applicants to the large and generous body which until lately has dispensed over £300m per annum: the HLF. Well, no longer.

The next decade looks to be a dim one for British museums: let's hope the Olympics will show that the sacrifice was worthwhile.

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