Will the financial crisis hit heritage and local history?

By Daniel Cossins, 23 September 2009 - 8:57am

With spending cuts in central and local government now topping the agenda, Alan Crosby fears that the the axe will inevitably fall on record offices, libraries and museums

Many charitable organisations dedicated to heritage and local history have drastically reduced funding, partly because grants are chopped but also because investments have fallen so sharply in value. I hear of one local authority where the budget for landscape conservation and management is to be cut by 30 per cent this year.

All this is a real cause for concern – the recent proposals for major cuts in services at The National Archives have achieved a high profile in the media, but there are deeply worrying plans for even more severe cutbacks in, for example, West Yorkshire. Pouring money into digitisation, regarded by so many in management as the universal panacea, is not going to be much help if basic running costs cannot be funded.

But even more disturbing are the long-term consequences. It’s easy to chop back on heritage and history – these aren’t statutory services and in a day-to-day sense these are non-essential services. But over the past fifty years we have made massive progress with heritage, museums, libraries, and archives.

We've also enhanced a wealth of historic sites, ancient monuments, conservation areas, archaeological and architectural treasures. Will all that be lost for short-term financial considerations?

We must hand these on to posterity, for generations to come. The money saved on such services will be infinitesimally small compared with the gargantuan expenditure on the Olympics, the war in Afghanistan, and baling out the banks, but the potential for damage if cuts are enforced is very great indeed.

Alan Crosby is editor of The Local Historian

 


 

Are you concerned about cuts in your local area? What do you think should be the priorities for future heritage funding? Share your thoughts below, or click here to read more from Alan Crosby's blog

Something to celebrate?
previous blog Article
Looking at poverty through the ages
next blog Article
Something to celebrate?
previous blog Article
Looking at poverty through the ages
next blog Article
We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here