Editorial

Simon Stephens, Issue 118/12, 01.12.2018
Working to create a sustainable future
This year has been eventful across the UK, with uncertainty over Brexit continuing to overshadow much of public life. For museums, galleries and heritage sites, Brexit is just one of many challenges ahead.

The government in Westminster might have declared that austerity is over but it does not feel like that for most museums funded by local authorities (see p6). Many can see no end in sight to ongoing budget cuts. The lucky ones might have a standstill budget, but even this means a real-term funding cut.  

At last month’s Museums Association (MA) Conference in Belfast, a session on the Mendoza Review of museums in England highlighted the fact that local authority museums are still under severe financial pressure.  

With a view to making the case for museums to government for next year’s spending review, there was a call for the sector to speak with a unified voice, both on the value that museums provide for society and the resources that are needed for this work to continue. Some pointed to the clarity of Renaissance in the Regions, the vision for the sector in England that was published in 2001 and led to a sustained period of funding for regional venues.  

Beyond the financial sustainability of museums, addressing the issue of climate change and the sustainability of the whole planet is now urgent. Museums are part of society and must respond to this.  

Next year’s MA Conference will be in Brighton with the theme of Sustainable and Ethical Museums in a Globalised World. The event, which takes place from 3-5 October, will give the sector a chance to discuss the ways in which we might use our buildings, collections and people to involve our communities in discussions about issues such as social and political upheaval, demographic change and rising inequality, all of which have an impact on sustainability.  

It’s also about putting our own house in order and leading by example. The MA sees the conference as a great opportunity to think about its own environmental impact. As you will see from this issue of Museums Journal, which will be sent in compostable wrapping for the first time, we have already started this journey. 

Simon Stephens, editor, Museums Journal  

simon@museumsassociation.org 
 

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