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.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Arts told to adopt US-style funding

From the Financial Times comes this stark warning.

Following on from this comes a discussion from the Guardian.

This is something that needs to be discussed. What are the benefits and pitfalls of such an approach to seeking funding? I'd like to hear your opinions on this.

1 comment:

Ceri said...

This is an issue that I am still working out in my head at the moment.

It is a difficult issue because I believe that museums and cultural organisations should be socially relevant and that means accessible to all, reflecting the interests and being representative of society as widely as possible, but also reflecting the 'truth' about history, contemporary issues and the objects in their care as far as is humanely possible. I believe that the government and public funding is the best way to achive this, after all the government aims at representing the interests of the whole of society whereas in my opinion corporations are more interested in serving their own opinions. Okay so I'm an idealistic socialist so that is my bias explained - I don't believe that corporations CANNOT be socially minded, of course they can, but unless they are established with specific social goals in mind I cannot see them wanting to find museums without getting something valuable in return. Whilst the aims of governments are not always that clear-cut or un-murky, the spirit at least in belief is to further the interests of society as a whole. For me museums should also be in that spirit, they deal in knowledge and the collection of artefacts which they believe is important for the interests of society, hence the desirability of publis funding.

As no one gives money away for free, it is often the case that certain conditions have to be achieved in order to show the benefit from using that money. The concern is that museums therefore must become party to ideological considerations that are imposed upon them in order to recieve the money.

The same could be said for public money as well as money from private donations and corporate funding - whichever has the control, museums may have to respond to their needs. But the same could be said that if museums had all the control over their funding, they would only do what they felt to be important to furthering the interests of the museum.

In my opinion the best approach is to have a mosaic of funding - as we have now really, private, public and raised by the museum itself. Each provides a check on the interests of each - of course this would only work when there is the opportunity for the museum to pick and choose where its funding comes from. I still think the bulk should be publically funded, after all museums are ideally placed to provide knowledge to the masses about their past, present and even the future, to raise debates and discussions about where we have come from and where we are going. Would corporate sponsers be willing to support such endeavours? Does the new government even? I don't know at the moment what to think anymore!