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Quango-fandango

In Museum [Insider], Museums, new content on October 15, 2010 at 8:17 am

We all know what a quango is now, right? (Quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation).What have they got to do with heritage?

Yesterday the coalition government announced its review of the 679 quangoes and 222 other stautory bodies as part of its huge cost-cutting exercise and in advance of the major overhaul of central Government spending, due out next week.

I took a look through the full list of organisations, bodies and committees to find out, firstly, how much of their work is related to the museums and heritage sector, and also to see how deep the cuts have been in this area. While there have had to be some cutbacks, it turns out that the reduction in Government spending in this area is perhaps not as bad as we anticipated.

Rumours had been circulating that the HLF and English Heritage would have to merge; that the Arts Council was going to be disbanded and that some of the smaller bodies and committees would be completely disbanded.

There have been casualties, but mostly they are in the field of advisory committees (libraries, national historic ships, government art collection, railway heritage). Visit England has also been told to modify its operation and customer focus.

The other big news is the disbanding of the MLA, which we’ve known about for a few months now. The exact effects of this decommissioning are yet to be fully digested by the sector, but the Culture Minister has said that Renaissance will be protected, which is great news for many of the nation’s smaller museums, especially those in the regions.

The great news is that most of the rest of the sector is safe (for the moment). The national museums, British Library, MoD museums, National Archives, Historic Royal Palaces, National Heritage Memorial Fund and Big Lottery Fund are all also safe, although the last of these is being transferred from DCMS to the Cabinet Office. Even Natural England survived, but only by the skin of its teeth.

There’s a fuller analysis of yesterday’s decisions on Museum [Insider] today and there will be more coming as a result of the spending review next week.

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