The Museums Association (MA) is deeply concerned about the impact of the cost of living crisis on museums across the UK. The rapidly increasing rate of inflation is causing severe problems for institutional and individual members and for the wider sector.
The Museums Association (MA) is deeply concerned about the impact of the cost of living crisis on museums across the UK. The rapidly increasing rate of inflation is causing severe problems for institutional and individual members and for the wider sector. The association set some of the main impacts:
Museum workers are already poorly paid against equivalent roles elsewhere in the economy, as evidenced by our 2017 Salary Survey. Double digit inflation combined with pay increases that are well below the rate of inflation mean that museum workers are seeing their real terms incomes decreasing at the fastest rate for decades.
Many workers in the sector will struggle to meet rapidly rising energy and food costs in coming months, which will have hugely negative effects on both physical and mental wellbeing.
Museums are facing rapidly increasing costs across their operations. In particular, energy costs are causing significant problems for the sector as organisations seek to maintain appropriate conditions for audiences and for collections. The impact is disproportionate for museums which are often sited in energy-hungry heritage buildings.
Other costs are also rising, including wage bills and capital project costs and other pressures on parent organisation budgets, such as local authority services. These stresses are arriving in a period when the sector is still in the process of rebuilding after the pandemic and a decade of austerity. Many organisations are not in a strong position to deal with another economic shock.
The cost of living crisis is already having an impact on consumption patterns. The public is becoming less willing to spend on paid-for museum experiences, including charging museums and temporary exhibitions. This is evidenced in the latest ALVA Public Sentiment research which shows that the cost of living has now overtaken Covid as the principal reason to not visit an attraction. This is a significant blow for museums that were successfully rebuilding audiences post-pandemic.
Meanwhile, museums with free entry may see an increase in use by the public as they remain one of the few cost-free days out for the public. In addition, museums are also likely to be used – formally or informally – as warm spaces during the winter by people unable to warm their own homes.
We are calling for:
We are continuing our support for wellbeing, better pay and investment in the sector with a range of research and campaigns over the coming months. You can find out more on this website, which includes our survey of workforce wellbeing.
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