Heritage blighted by a decade of austerity | Letters

Funding cuts are forcing impossible choices on our local authorities, say Dr Ellen McAdam and Dr Frank Compton

Your coverage of the staff restructuring by Leicester museums in response to funding cuts (‘Engagement team’ replaces curators at Leicester museums, 14 March) is hardly fair. A decade of austerity has forced even local authorities that, like Leicester, value their cultural institutions highly to make impossible choices. Social care or arts? Children’s services or museums?

For over 30 years most regional museum funding has targeted audience engagement. This has unfortunately been at the expense of curatorial and other care for the public asset represented by the collection, even in museums with collections designated by government as being of national importance, albeit not so funded. When shops, pubs and restaurants are closing, museums and their collections are among the few attractions left to draw people into our town and city centres. No other country would have allowed its family silver to tarnish so badly.
Dr Ellen McAdam
Director, Birmingham Museums

• The decision by the council in Leicester to replace its four museum curators with the cheaper option of an “audience engagement team” will inevitably lead to a deterioration in the excellent quality of the museums in that city. This decision is quite correctly deplored by the Museums Association and others. Such decisions are blighting other aspects of facilities designed to preserve our heritage.

The decision by Worcestershire county council to cut funding for its archive and archaeological services by £250,000 will mean that specialist archivists will be lost, and this will mean that sources for historical research in the locality will be drastically reduced.

Many other councils are making similar decisions to cut funding on museums and archives. The deleterious impact of these cuts on research by family historians, genealogists, university students and staff, and others, cannot be overstated.
Dr Frank Crompton
Rushwick, Worcestershire

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