22 June 2007 No 29
Media contact: Laura Humble - 020 7210 2003
STRICTLY EMBARGOED: NOT FOR PUBLICATION OR BROADCAST BEFORE 00.01 HRS 25 JUNE 2007
OLYMPICS MUST NOT STARVE CULTURAL COLLECTIONS, MPs SAY
Attn: News Desks, Political Corrs, Entertainment and Arts Corrs
The Culture, Media and Sport Committee today publishes its sixth report in session 2006-07, Caring for Our Collections (HC 176-1).
While recent investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund and programmes such as Renaissance in the Regions have yielded impressive results, this is not a time for complacency, the Committee concludes.
It expresses deep concern about the impact on the Heritage sector of the diversion of lottery funds towards the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
No further sums should be removed from the Heritage Lottery Fund or other lottery distributors if the costs of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games exceed those set out by Tessa Jowell on 15 March 2007, the report recommends. It also invites the DCMS to confirm its intention that the diverted funds should be treated as a loan, to be repaid out of the sale of land after the Olympics, in order to reimburse the heritage sector.
Funding for the Renaissance in the Regions programme should also, at the very least, be sustained in the next Spending Review, to enable museums to fulfil the promise and build on the achievements of the first phase.
The Committee expresses concern about the decline in museums' power to keep their collections growing and developing, amid the very high prices now commanded by great works of art.
The export control system plays an invaluable role in assisting national museums and public bodies to build their collections and the Committee recommends DCMS amend the system to strengthen the position of public institutions which have indicated serious intent to make matching offers for export-deferred cultural objects.
The Committee also shares the disappointment of Sir Nicholas Goodison, and many others involved in the museum sector, at the lack of progress on taking forward the recommendations he made in his Review to encourage philanthropy, and calls on the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to give Sir Nicholas the response he is entitled to.
The Committee recognizes the strength of feeling both for and against returning the Elgin Marbles, and is disappointed that casts supplied by the British Museum will not be displayed at the New Acropolis Museum, but it notes that the decision as to whether the originals should be returned remains one for the Trustees of the British Museum.
The report highlights the need for better coordination between departments both in relation to museums andeven more soin relation to archives. The fact that responsibility for the archives sector is spread across several government departments, leading parts of that sector to feel that no one is responsible for it has undoubtedly increased the difficulties faced by the sector in raising its profile, the committee notes.
Commenting, Committee Chairman, John Whittingdale, said: "Museums have done well in recent years due to support from the Lottery and the Renaissance in the Regions programme. It would be a tragedy if the gains made were now put at risk due to funding being cut off. It is essential that the Government both continues to provide support to our museums, galleries and archives from public funds and creates greater incentives to encourage private giving, if we are to preserve and enhance our collections for the enjoyment of future generations."
NOTES TO EDITORS;
1. The title of the Committee report is 'Caring for Our Collections' (HC 176-1), Sixth Report of the Committee in Session 2006-07.
2. Embargoed hard copies of the report will be available from the House of Commons Press Gallery and the reception of 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA from 1200 Hrs 22 June, 2007.
3. Media Bids/Request for interviews with the Chairman should be directed to Laura Humble on 020 7219 2003/07917488489.
4. For detailed information the Culture Media & Sport Committee can be contacted on 020 7219 6188.
5. Members of the Committee are: Mr John Whittingdale OBE (Chairman) (Conservative), Janet Anderson (Labour), Rosemary McKenna (Labour), Mr Nigel Evans (Conservative), Adam Price (Plaid Cymru), Paul Farrelly (Labour), Mr Adrian Sanders (Liberal Democrat), Mr Mike Hall (Labour), Helen Southworth (Labour), Alan Keen (Labour), Mr Philip Davies (Conservative).