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Carey Young

Henry Moore Institute
until 3 October

Vision for Regional Museums and Galleries in England - Update [updated 20/2/02]

Renaissance in the Regions recommends that the government invests up to £267.2m over 5 years in the regional infrastructure. The new money will raise core-staffing levels by 25%, create new access, outreach and education programmes, finance new exhibition initiatives and develop IT. The report forecasts that visits to leading museums and galleries could double as a result.

VAGA's Response. VAGA has endorsed the thrust of the report welcoming the "Renaissance" as long overdue. The recommendations offer the opportunity for the Government to reap substantial returns through investment in the backbone of the country’s cultural and creative heritage – to open up under exploited collections, foster innovative education and access programmes and to recognise the value of museums and galleries as powerful forces in economic regeneration, tourism and local identity. The potential for regional museums and galleries (including those within universities), to meet the 21st century education, creative and inclusion agendas has been stifled by lack of resources, leadership and those conditions within which expertise, new ideas and scholarship can thrive. The report highlights examples such as the New Art Gallery Walsall, demonstrating the difference substantial investment, political will and vision can make in transforming an inadequate venue into a vibrant social and cultural centre open to all.

The visual arts have, since the hey day of the great 19th century collections, contributed to understanding of history, different cultures and social issues – an ever poignant role in the face of the complexities of contemporary society, and international politics. VAGA looks forward to the recommendations in this report laying the ground for strengthening contemporary visual arts activity and creativity, within the context of modern and historic collections and the broader museum environment. The report presents the ideal opportunity for joined up thinking across government (DCMS, DfES, DTLGR) and for the different cultural agencies to work together.

Both DCMS and the DfES have welcomed the report emphasising the educational role of museums.

Further Information The Museums Association has published an excellent synopsis of the report, available from the MA email.

Report available from Resource Publications, 16 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AA, Tel 020 7273 1444, or on the Resource website , where essays, produced by Task Force working parties as background to the report’s conclusions, are also available, click here.

Update: Speech By Baroness Blackstone 22/1/02 Baroness Blackstone's speech to the Association for Independent Museums ( AIM )set out the Government's endorsement of the proposals, available from DCMS Press Office, tel 020 7211 6200.

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