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Wednesday, 3 October, 2001, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
British Museum tackles 3m deficit
British Museum
The museum is able to generate some of its revenue
The British Museum has announced a series of cuts to help tackle a projected 3m shortfall in its income.

These include halting plans for an 80m study centre and a freeze on recruitment. It is also slicing 1m from its building maintenance budget.

The museum blames a drop in government funding, which it says has fallen by a third in real terms, and fewer visitors from overseas.

The news comes despite a two-year sponsorship deal for the museum announced by Barclays on Tuesday.

In the last 10 years the museum has seen a 30% fall in the buying power of government funding

British Museum MD

The proposed study centre, a 12-storey building planned for Holborn, was due to be the museum's next major development.

"In the last 10 years the museum has seen a 30% fall in the buying power of government funding....that's 10m a year in hard cash terms," said the museum's outgoing managing director, Suzanna Taverne.

"This was despite the fact that the museum is both a major magnet for the country's tourist industry and a serious provider of education."

She said the museum had been badly affected by the foot-and-mouth crisis, while it was likely the terror attacks in America would also mean fewer overseas visitors.

However UK visitor numbers have increased, thanks to the launch of the new 100m Great Court, which opened last year.

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said although the real value of the grant had fallen, its grant to the museum would still be 36m, a third of the overall funding.

British Museum
The museum has around 5.5 million people visiting annually
Ms Taverne criticised the government's handout to establishments which had only recently decided to adopt a free admission policy.

'Double whammy'

"We at the British Museum valiantly held out against previous government pressure for the introduction of admission charges. The result is that we were penalised twice," she said.

"Firstly we lost the revenue we would have earned by charging. Now to add insult to injury, we are missing out on a pay-off which could be worth some 8m to us which the Department of Culture, Media and Sport is giving to museums and galleries that used to charge.

"That's a real double whammy."

It is for the museum to manage the funds available to it


The DCMS spokesman said the museum would have benefited by 700,000 due to VAT changes for free establishments.

He added: "The department will work closely with the museum to help it through its current difficulties. However it is for the museum to manage the funds available to it."

As well as the government funds, the museum is also funded by revenue-raising activities such as onsite retail, catering, corporate hire, sponsorship income, Great Court trading, Friends' organisations and also through patrons and donors schemes.

The support from Barclays is to help finance an exhibition on the Queen of Sheba, beginning in June 2002.

BBC News Online looks at how the arts are funded in the UKArts funding
How the UK's cash for the arts is spent
See also:

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