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Museums and libraries formally transfer to Arts Council England

  • Date: 3 October 2011
  • Area: National

Arts Council England now represents arts, museums and libraries, having assumed some of the functions of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), on 1 October.

The principal responsibilities assumed are: 

  • libraries development and improvement
  • Renaissance in the Regions funding programme for regional museums
  • museums development and improvement, including national collections purchase programmes (V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the PRISM fund), and a number of programmes to support and develop the standards of museums across the UK (Accreditation, Designation and the provision of national security advice)
  • statutory cultural property functions carried out on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Acceptance in Lieu, Export Licensing and the administration of the Government Indemnity Scheme) - transferring with no change
  • a number of 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games programmes

We have not assumed the MLA's strategic archive functions, which have moved to the National Archives.

We have inherited an additional budget of around £46 million a year for our new responsibilities. £43 million of this is set aside for the regional museum programme, Renaissance in the Regions (a 15 per cent reduction compared to the last spending period) and the balance of the budget will largely be devoted to library development work.

We will have a new staffing structure from today, 3 October, that reflects our new responsibilities, with 53 new roles distributed throughout our organisation, which in large part bring specialist expertise. We will also work collaboratively with other relevant national organisations such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Archives.

Liz Forgan, Chair of Arts Council England said: 'Arts Council England's new, wider remit represents a significant moment in the organisation's long history. It is a moment of both opportunity and challenge - in the current financial climate we need to be pragmatic about what we can do with the resources available. We're determined not to lose sight of our long-term ambitions for those we serve and we want to seize the opportunity to look again at how we work with museums, libraries and the arts, and make sure all areas of our cultural life emerge stronger than ever.'

In September we published Culture, knowledge and understanding: great museums and libraries for everyone. This is a companion piece to our 10-year strategic framework, Achieving great art for everyone, and sets out how we will place museums and libraries firmly at the heart of our organisation, our work and our vision for the future.

Alan Davey Chief Executive of Arts Council England, said: 'Though this change was born of necessity, we are inspired by the opportunity it presents - for the arts, museums and libraries, and their audiences and users. Arts organisations, museums and libraries now have an unprecedented opportunity to create a new cultural landscape with cultural institutions playing an even greater role in our national life, and a richer cultural experience offered to people across the country.'

Visit the museums and libraries pages on our website to find out more.