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					For immediate Release: Tuesday 20 October 2009
Contact: Lizzie Bloom, Press and Campaign Manager, on, 020 7225 4888 or 07912 777761 (out of hours)

Behind the scenes at the museum: the effects of
the recession
Independent charity The Art Fund‟s nationwide survey finds:
      50% saw increased visitor numbers over the summer
      26% are dealing with cuts in public funding
      30% struggling with rising running costs
      25% now having to rely more heavily on volunteers instead of paid staff

As the realities of the recession hit home, visitors have taken refuge in Britain‟s
museums and galleries over the summer. The Art Fund‟s second nationwide museums
and galleries survey shows that predictions of the Great British “Staycation” proved
accurate with half of UK museums and galleries seeing an increase in visitors between
March and September 2009, including a fifth of museums who saw a rise in visitors of
over 10%. However, this positive result masks the fact that behind the scenes budgets
are being cut, staffing is under pressure and the basic costs of keeping these
institutions running are on the up.

The survey carried out by The Art Fund, the UK‟s independent art charity, found that
whilst public funding, investment income and corporate spending had all dropped in the
last six months overall income for museums and galleries is currently holding steady due
to the rise in visitor spending in museum shops and cafes. The greatest rise in visitors
was seen at national museums, around two-thirds of which saw an increase in summer
visits. Free entry clearly proved a draw to cash-strapped families as 60% of those
museums seeing an increase in visitors offer free admission to their permanent
collections. But an increase in people holidaying at home, overseas tourists lured by a
weak pound and the pull of strong exhibitions were also positive factors for museums.

However, financially there is cause for concern amongst museums and galleries. A
quarter of all publicly funded museums saw a cut in funds but those museums funded by
a Local Authority were clearly worse off with over a third experiencing cuts.
National museums were particularly badly hit by the fall in investment income
with two thirds of those responding to the survey experiencing a decrease, and
in almost every case the drop was greater than 10%.

But worryingly museums are finding that when they can least afford it, running
costs are climbing with 30% of museums saying that they spent more than they
did in the same period last year. Again and again hikes in utility costs were
cited as the reason for this along with planned activities such as building works,
maintenance and conservation. The increase in visitors also had a knock on
effect on necessary expenditure to cater for their needs.

Staffing issues were also evident. 22% of museums admitted that they have
recently seen a reduction in numbers of paid staff. Budget cuts, recruitment
freezes and posts being merged were common reasons for staff reductions but
interestingly there is also a clear trend of reliance on volunteers emerging with
25% of museums saying they have had a recent increase in volunteers.

Looking forward it is clear that the recession is taking its toll on museums and
galleries. 7% say they have already had to cancel activities and there are signs
that new exhibitions may have to be less ambitious or that the change-over of
displays will be less frequent. There is widespread concern that further
economies will mean that care for museums' and galleries‟ collections will

Andrew Macdonald, Acting Director of The Art Fund says: “It‟s clear that when
times are tough our cultural institutions provide both a great value for money
experience and a distraction from financial worries, so it is worrying to see that
investment in museums and galleries appears to be drying up just at the point
that they have the most to offer people. We need to be vigilant to ensure that
the quality of what our museums and galleries can offer does not suffer as a
result of their need to economise.”

A survey factsheet can be found at

For more information, please contact The Art Fund Press Office on
020 7225 4888 or Lizzie Bloom at

  Notes to editors:

  1. Case Studies illustrating the survey‟s findings are available to media on
  2. The Art Fund is the UK‟s leading independent art charity. It offers grants
     to help UK museums and galleries enrich their collections; campaigns
     on behalf of museums and their visitors; and promotes the enjoyment of
  3. It is entirely funded from public donations and has 80,000 members.
     Since 1903 the charity has helped museums and galleries all over the
     UK secure 860,000 works of art for their collections.
  4. Recent achievements include: helping secure Titian‟s Diana and
     Actaeon for the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Gallery,
     London in February 2009 with a grant of £1 million; helping secure
     Anthony d‟Offay‟s collection, ARTIST ROOMS, for Tate and National
     Galleries of Scotland in February 2008 with a grant of £1million; and
     running the „Buy a Brushstroke‟ public appeal which raised over
     £550,000 to keep Turner‟s Blue Rigi watercolour in the UK.
  5. For more information contact the Press Office on 020 7225 4888 or visit
  6. The Art Fund is a Registered Charity No. 209174

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