Private Sector Services can help Control Expenditure and Protect against Risk
The Collections Trust reports that the approach of the 2015 Government Election is likely to see further reductions in culture budgets, in spite of the fact that our museums, galleries and cultural centres provide one of the greatest draws to foreign visitors and a central role in the tourist economy. Local authorities in particular are buckling under austerity measures. One of their solutions is to hive off the museums within their portfolio, turning them into charitable trusts with independent trustees. Initially all services still seem to be sourced from the Local Authority but if the management is to show it is truly independent then they will have to change their culture and be more inventive about negotiating with the private sector
Hugo Johnsen, Castleacre’s Museum Director, says ‘It isn’t all a bleak picture, diminished funding has meant that museums and galleries have had to think much more inventively about how to run their institutions and how to engage visitors – in some ways this has led to a more exciting cultural environment but undoubtedly there has been a loss of skilled staff and some venues simply haven’t survived.
Part of our remit is to help these institutions re-evaluate their risks and protect their staff, volunteers, collections and buildings without adding to their budget woes. For instance where a museum or gallery has moved into independent trust status, the trustees now have personal and unlimited liability if they commit a wrongful act; we help them find affordable indemnity protection. While the Collection is a core concern for trustees; the liabilities for staff, visitors and volunteers can be an equally huge burden on these institutions. One advantage of moving out of local authority control is that museums no longer fall under a blanket local authority insurance, which can be rather a blunt instrument for these specialist institutions. A move into independent status has meant that trustees can work with a specialist broker to make decisions about which risks are their biggest concern and insure accordingly – it is a much more streamlined approach and better suited to the current economic climate.’
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