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The Impacts of Austerity on Local Authority Museums in England

Marks, Nadia Meredith; (2018) The Impacts of Austerity on Local Authority Museums in England. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This project studies the impacts of the ongoing government policy of austerity on Local Authority Museums in England. I undertook a comprehensive and systematic survey of the impact of austerity on LAMs in order to understand the nature and scale of the situation, and to evaluate different strategies for responding to it. Ongoing fiscal austerity in the public sector is causing budget cuts for LAMs and while they have continually struggled financially the situation may exacerbate the issue. Existing sectoral studies of the situation lack depth and there is limited academic literature to help build an expectation of the impact of changes in museum funding on museum values and activities. This study clarifies how LAMs are reacting to funding cuts in terms of income diversification, governance and management, and considers the impact of any developments on museum values and activities. It therefore provides enhanced understanding of the relationship between museum funding and museum operations and practical exploration of museum economics theory. Further, by analysing the consequences of this economic fall-out, this study learns from the ongoing public finance situation to provide strategies for future resilience, establishing an evaluative resource of enduring value to the sector. Key findings of this thesis include a clear difference between LAMs that engaged within their LAs and those that are geographically, hierarchically or culturally distant from the LA. While both received budget cuts, the former showed greater understanding of the situation and their contribution to it, and demonstrated a more active response. A further finding is that LAMs must act opportunistically, but due to risk-averse LA bureaucracy and budget paucity lack the organisational agility to do so. However, I argue that the current wealth of HLF funding is creating a relatively benign environment for LAMs that hides the need for innovative, sustained change.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The Impacts of Austerity on Local Authority Museums in England
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10058008
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