A three-phased ‘Emergency, Recovery and Resilience’ approach has been implemented by the organisation as it seeks to provide the best support possible to cultural institutions during the turbulent 2020/21 financial year.

To immediately address the perilous situation many museums and galleries find themselves in, the Scottish Government provided £700,000 for Museums Galleries Scotland to distribute through an Urgent Response Fund for independent institutions.

A Digital Resilience Fund to help venues in purchasing the necessary equipment to work from home and provide digital access to collections and resources has also been set up.

Six museums have been awarded funding via the Urgent Response Fund, with 30 other sites receiving help through the Digital Resilience Fund.

“We are in daily contact with the sector and are highly aware of the challenges faced by them, especially by independent museums, who have been particularly hard-hit through loss of income,” notes Lucy Casot, CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland.

“At a time when many museums and galleries are facing financial and organisational uncertainty, we are ensuring that our emergency funds are assessed on a rolling basis, are processed as quickly as possible, and remain responsive to the sector’s needs.”

Pandemic publishing

Museums Galleries Scotland has published a report highlighting the impacts Covid-19 has had on the sector, from independent to university museums. This was sent to the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee ahead of a meeting last week to discuss the mounting concern over visitor-led industries.

Compiled from a survey of museums and galleries across Scotland, the report points to acute financial difficulties for many of the nation’s cultural attractions.

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The report's findings

  • More than half of the independent museums who responded to Museums Galleries Scotland’s survey indicated that they will run out of funds within 6 months and 71% would not survive a year
  • The Industrial Museums Scotland group are reporting significant financial uncertainty, with 80% of staff furloughed and nearly all museums reporting financial instability before the start of the 2021 tourist season
  • The anticipated reduction in visitor figures and income post lockdown will be an enormous challenge for those already facing financial difficulties. It is likely that many will not be able to open this year as it will not be financially viable for them to do so. Some may fail as a result
  • Local Authorities and ALEOs have indicated that some museums will not open this year, while future budget pressures mean that some of their museums may not reopen at all
  • University Museums are scenario planning for large budget reductions due to the impact on income from the decline in overseas students

“We are keenly aware of the impact of this unprecedented situation on our colleagues and our museums they so passionately work within,” Casot states. “I have been proud of how the sector has rallied to find solutions and generously shared knowledge and resources to help others in need. I know too how worrying and stressful it has been.

“Our museums and galleries play an important economic, educational and social role that will be valuable as our country plans for the future. We are in regular contact with the Scottish Government and other funding and tourism bodies to highlight the needs and concerns of our sector. It is absolutely vital that museums and galleries keep us informed of their situation to enable us to make the strongest advocacy case.”

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