Norfolk Museums Service highlighted as great example of partnership working in new national report

Norwich Castle.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Norwich Castle.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Norfolk Museums Service has been held up as a great example of partnership working in a new report out today looking at funding and the arts.

The report from The Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee - which also called for more to be done to address the imbalance in arts funding between London and the rest of the UK - highlighted the Norfolk Museums Service's 'hub model' of 10 museums and its collaborations with national instititutions such as the British Museum and the Tate as one of the examples of good practice in an increasingly difficult financial climate.

It said: 'Norfolk Museums have successfully operated in a hub structure on a county-wide basis since 1974, incorporating 10 museums. Its success has been recognised and it has received ACE funding as an MPM. Norfolk Museums collaborate with the British Museum, Natural History Museum, the Tate and the Imperial War Museum. It is not a one-directional partnership; it is mutually beneficial. For example, Norfolk Museums Service has contributed artefacts from their collection to the recent British Museum exhibition on the Celts.'

Responding to the report, Steve Miller, head of Norfolk Museums Service, said: 'Norfolk Museums Service is a unique model nationally and we are delighted that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have highlighted the success of this special model and the way in which it has enabled Norfolk to work successfully with national museums as well as many institutions from around the world. With the support of Norfolk County Council and the seven district councils we are able to provide award-winning services for our local communities as well as putting on major blockbuster exhibitions and events which attract tourists to the county in their tens of thousands.'

The report also praised the inclusion of culture in Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), specifically highlighting the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership for Norfolk and Suffolk.

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It said: 'Norfolk and Suffolk have combined to create an East Anglia LEP, and have created a Cultural Board, which places a strong emphasis on cultural tourism. The LEP strategy included cultural tourism as a way of attracting visitors to the region, and also in terms of making the region a desirable place to work and live, offering a better quality of life.'

However, the report also said: 'Hub models and inclusion of culture into the local LEP both seem to be helpful but cannot by themselves provide a sufficient response to the current funding challenges.'

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The report called for a better regional balance of funding for the arts, and the committee said it was 'concerned' that the largest sums of money allocated by the Arts Council England (ACE) went to institutions in the capital.

The cross-party group also warned that pressures on council budgets could lead to cuts in spending on culture and called for tax breaks to boost sponsorship and philanthropy.

The committee's chairman Damian Collins said: 'There should be a greater appreciation of the cultural treasures and creative innovation to be found across the UK, and especially outside of London.

'Strong local leadership, and innovation from regional arts and cultural organisations has produced some remarkable successes but more needs to be done to avoid further closures of small museums and galleries, as funding from local authorities declines.

'We welcome the recent further shift in Arts Council funding to provide more resources for regional arts organisation but there should be greater incentives in place to encourage more private and corporate support for culture.

'Our major national cultural institutions are doing more than ever to develop partnerships outside of London, to make the arts and heritage more accessible. We need to build on this, and make successful cultural partnerships a condition of the large grant funding that our large museums and galleries receive.'

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