Following on from the news last week about government funding for museums and heritage, today it has been announced that a number of public bodies relevant to the sector are to 'merged, abolished, or streamlined.' This includes abolishing the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, which will be wound up by April 2012 - details of MLA's response on the MLA website.
Other proposals include abolishing the UK Film Council, the Advisory Council on Libraries, and the Advisory Committee on Historic Wreck sites to name a few. The government will also be looking into their "responsibility for heritage and the built environment, and considering the role and remit of English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund."
It is vague as to how the remit of bodies like the MLA will be fulfilled in the future - the full ministerial statement states that "Where bodies are to be abolished we will look to transfer key functions to other existing bodies so as to continue to support our sectors and preserve the necessary expertise."
Will the loss of bodies like the MLA be a significant blow to the sector? MLA was by no means perfect but it provided (in some ways) a mediator between the demands/wants of Government and the demands/wants of museums, libraries and archives on the other. It provided a channel for public money to be used in ways that benefited the sector, negotiating the tricky intrinsic / instrumental debate that rages at the heart of funding for culture. Through their programmes they provided a co-ordinated approach for organisations to aspire to - such as Inspiring Learning For All which sought to put learning at the heart of museums, libraries and archives - and ensured that there was a voice for the sector close to government. It remains to be seen what will happen to the sector now.
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.