May 8, 2020
News

English museums are seeking $308.6 million in aid from Arts Council England.

The main entrance to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Photo © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The main entrance to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Photo © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

English museums are looking to the Arts Council England (ACE) to petition the government for an arts bailout totaling roughly £250 million ($308.6 million), according to The Art Newspaper. The funds will help many of England’s public museums weather both the COVID-19 lockdown and the projected budget increases and income reductions over the next few years.
In March, ACE disbursed £160 million ($197.5 million) in emergency grants to both individuals and organizations, but many museums say those funds are not enough to sustain them long-term. The Victoria and Albert Museum’s director Tristram Hunt said the museum’s worst-case projection is an 80 to 85 percent drop in attendance, and many museums across the country are expecting visitors to fall by half.
An ACE spokeswoman told The Art Newspaper the organization is working to “produce a plan for the stabilization and reset of our sector, helping us make the case to the government for supporting cultural organizations through the next critical stages.”
American museums are facing similar challenges. The Museum of Modern Art announced this week a series of drastic cuts, including $45 million in budget cuts and a 17 percent reduction in staff. The Metropolitan Museum of Art made similar cuts, laying off more than 80 employees amidst a projected shortfall of $150 million. Elsewhere in Europe, however, institutions are already reopening. German museums and galleries started opening in late April, and some of France’s museums and galleries may begin to open next week, while Italian and Belgian institutions look to open the following week.

Further Reading: How Three Very Different Museums Are Dealing with the COVID-19 Crisis