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The UK Government's culture department, the DCMS, has announced an urgent inquiry into the future of the Science Museum Group, which includes the National Media Museum in Bradford, one of the key photography museums in the country. The DCMS is inviting submissions by 27 June 2013.
This follows comments from the group director, Ian Blatchford, who said that one of the group's museums, also including the Science Museum in London, The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester and the National Railway Museum in York, might have to be closed as a result of funding cuts.
Some commentators have speculated that the National Media Museum is the most likely target for closure. See: Francis Hodgson blog and British Photographic History. Meanwhile a petition to chancellor George Osborne has drawn significant support.
The DCMS invites your short written submission by 27 June 2013. The full text of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee's statement is as follows:
The Culture, Media and Sport Committee is planning to hold a short, urgent inquiry into the Future of the Science Museum Group.
The Science Museum Group consists of five museums, the Science Museum in London, The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, National Media Museum in Bradford, National Railway Museum in York, and the National Railway Museum in Shildon, County Durham. Together, the museums attract over 5 million visitors a year, care for over 7.5 million items, and, according to the Ian Blatchford, Director of the Group, form the “most significant grouping of science museums in the world”.
The taxpayer provides approximately 62% of the Science Museum Group’s funding in the form of a grant from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The rest of its income derives from commercial activities (21%), grants, legacies and donations. The Group — like other bodies funded by the DCMS — has already seen its grant reduced, and it appears that there may be a further reduction of 10% as a consequence of the next government spending review. The Group Director is reported as having said that, in these circumstances, there would be little choice other than to close one of the museums. Decisions on this may be taken in the autumn.
Each of the museums is of local and national importance, and is thought to play a significant role in the local economy.
The Culture, Media and Sport Committee has therefore decided to hold a short inquiry as soon as possible into the future of the Science Museum Group, focusing on the local, national and international significance of the institutions, on the scope for further commercial development to support each institution’s cultural and educational activities, and other options to improve the financial position of the Group.
An evidence session with some of the key interest groups is expected to take place on 2 July. Meanwhile, the Committee invites written evidence from those who wish to contribute to the inquiry.
How to respond
The Committee requests short written submissions in Word format. A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to email@example.com and should have ”Science Museum” in the subject line. Submissions should be received by Thursday 27 June 2013.
Committee Membership is as follows:
Mr John Whittingdale (Chair) (Con) (Maldon)
Mr Ben Bradshaw (Lab) (Exeter)
Angie Bray (Con) (Ealing Central and Acton)
Conor Burns (Con) (Bournemouth West)
Tracey Crouch (Con)(Chatham and Aylesford)
Philip Davies (Con) (Shipley)
Paul Farrelly (Lab) (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
Mr John Leech (Lib Dem) (Manchester, Withington)
Steve Rotheram (Lab) (Liverpool, Walton)
Jim Sheridan (Lab) (Paisley and Renfrewshire North)
Mr Gerry Sutcliffe (Lab) (Bradford South)