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Tuesday, 22 October, 2002, 14:17 GMT 15:17 UK
Museums given funding boost
The British Museum
The museum has been hit hard by funding problems
Officials at the cash-strapped British Museum have warned that additional government funding will not be enough for the institution's long-term plans.

The money from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, announced on Tuesday, will ensure it can press ahead with reforms and re-open galleries currently closed to the public

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell made the announcement as part of a 70m package of funding plans, said to be the largest-ever allocation of cash to regional museums from central government.


This is a big increase in central government support to these museums

Tessa Jowell
The British Museum will receive 36.8m, with an extra 400,000 in 2003 to re-open the Korean Galleries and others currently closed.

The total funding to the institution will rise to 37.8m in 2005/6.

British Museum bosses were less than enthusiastic about the total extra money, seeing it as just a drop in the ocean of what is needed to clear its debts.

'World-class'

The collection is said to have accumulated a 6m deficit after major building works and a decline in expected income.

Neil MacGregor
MacGregor had called on the government for a cash injection
Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, said: "The Museum is grateful for the real uplift in funding allocated for 2004 (1.5%) and 2005-6 (2.5%), and for the 400,000 allocated to 2003-4 to increase access.

"However in the longer term it still leaves us unable to realise the Museum's full potential."

The museum is undergoing a drastic cost-cutting exercise which will see 150 staff made redundant.

Workers went out on strike to protest against the cuts, forcing the institution to close its doors to the public during the pickets.

Above inflation

Ms Jowell said Britain's museums "world-class collections are now free for all to enjoy, regardless of their income or social background".

"It has been a top priority to keep this most successful initiative going, and I am delighted to be able to do so."

The government said the rises were above inflation and built on the 17% real-terms increases to the museum sector since 1997.

The culture secretary also announced extra funding - averaging 7.5 per cent in real terms - for the smaller nationally-funded museums including the Wallace Collection, the Tyne and Wear Museum Service and the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.

"This is a big increase in central government support to these museums, which rely on local government and universities for their main funding, and it will enable them to make a good start on the programme," she said.


In DepthIN DEPTH
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:

14 Oct 02 | Entertainment
10 Oct 02 | England
02 Aug 02 | Entertainment
31 Jul 02 | Entertainment
31 Jul 02 | Entertainment
30 Apr 02 | Entertainment
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