I don't know about you but I am sitting here today in a massive state of anxiety about the fate of the nation following the UK General Election last night (I have already bitten off all my nails so have resorted to drinking copious cups of tea and flicking between the Guardian and BBC websites to catch the final totals). And whilst the state of the nation is at stake, what about the fate of museums? I cannot believe that I am the only person really concerned over what might happen to museums if the Conservatives get into power - which at the moment it looks like they will. It has been a while since the Conservatives were in power but I still remember having to pay to get into the national museums. I might be panicking a bit but is it fair to think that all the gains made over the last 10 years, the massive changes that have been made in the sector, the repositioning of museums as agents of social change, of learning, will start to vanish again expect for the few passionate believers? I managed to find one blog post about what might happen to museums, libraries etc. in the advent of a Conservative / Labour / Liberal Democrat victory - http://heritage-key.com/blogs/sean-williams/uk-election-2010-what-will-happen-britains-museums. I have absolutely no idea what will happen but I cannot help feeling worried that culture will start to revert back to being accessible only to the privileged - even with Labour policy and funding towards broadening participation there were mixed messages from the sector about its success. Okay so not everyone believes that museums should be anything more than temples to culture, but when you have been doing research in the sector in this area (for almost 8 years now) and you see the benefits that museums can bring to communities; how they can operate effectively as forums for debate on contemporary issues; the contributions that they can make to the lives of vulnerable people; how much better a museum looks when it is vibrant with people of all cultures and backgrounds, you cannot help but be worried about a party which supports the idea of culture, heritage and arts (in the traditional sense) but don't want to give any money to it*. Perhaps we will soon be looking back on the years 1997-2010 for all their faults as some kind of golden age?
*Thank you to Elee for finishing off that sentence for me
The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.