More than half of museums and galleries ‘concerned about long-term survival’

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As museums and galleries prepare to welcome back visitors, new research suggests more than half of institutions are worried about their long-term survival.

On Monday, museums and galleries in England and Wales will welcome back visitors for the first time in months.

However, research by charity Art Fund suggests 55% of museums and galleries remain concerned about their ability to stay open.

British Museum stock
British Museum (Tim Ireland/PA)

The survey also revealed that only 24% said they were not very concerned abut their ongoing survival, while 4% were not concerned at all.

A total of 316 museum and gallery directors were surveyed as part of the research.

Of those polled, 39% said they relied on grants from local authorities to get by during the pandemic, while 38% relied on Government funding from the Culture Recovery Fund.

The Government previously unveiled the £1.57 billion fund to save institutions in peril as a result of the global pandemic, plus additional support during the Budget this year.

Visitor numbers at museums and galleries were down 75% in 2021/21 compared to the previous year, according to Art Fund.

The charity’s director Jenny Waldman said: “This past year we have all been deprived of our galleries, museums and historic houses.

“Now everyone has the power to breathe life back into their favourite museum by going with family and friends.

“These much-loved places have made heroic efforts to stay afloat over the past year and are now ready to safely welcome everybody back.”

Liverpool stock
Tate Liverpool (Lynne Cameron/PA)

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Today we’re not just getting a step closer to normal, we’re getting back to the things we love. Cultural organisations can now reopen and venues across the country are preparing to welcome audiences back to performances.

“Of course I recognise the anxiety people feel as we assess the situation over the next fortnight in the run up to stage 4, but today is a huge moment for our hard hit cultural landscape.

“We’ve supported the nation’s arts organisations, venues, cinemas and heritage sites during difficult months of necessary closure with our Culture Recovery Fund worth almost £2 billion.

“More support will also be on its way to our much-loved museums, music venues, theatres and historic houses as they reopen, but from today everyone can safely play a part in helping our cultural institutions to get going again.”

Museums and galleries will initially have to reopen with social-distancing measures in place and visitors will be required to wear face coverings.

The Tate galleries, the Natural History Museum and British Museum in London and Newcastle’s Laing Art Gallery are among the venues welcoming back visitors on Monday.

Artist Heather Phillipson’s Rupture No 1: Blowtorching The Bitten Peach exhibition at the Tate Britain in London is one of the new exhibitions which will be open to visitors on the first day of reopening.

Some venues including Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Manchester Art Gallery and National Museum Cardiff will open later in the week.

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