♦ A Comparative Analysis of Funding in the United States & United Kingdom

Art is the soul of inspiration, culture, history and education.  It is a vital part of society, and needs protection from the financial pressures of a recession.

- Rachel Jones

With the recent fall of the economy, the museums and galleries in both English and American universities have taken quite a hit. It seems that with this crisis it is often the smaller galleries and museums that take a more dramatic blow, which have lead them to undergo closures or be downsized.  America in particular has had to make many budget cuts and the galleries have been the main target.  All kinds of  strategies have been created and devised to bring in money to maintain the museums after these cuts, yet they still seem to suffer.  This report will cover the different types of funding available to the schools, as well as covering the financial stresses that have been placed on the arts.

            Even from the beginning, universities in America have held collections of various artwork and artifacts from endowments and donors.  These collections have come to be held in college and university owned museums and galleries.  Most established colleges and universities have galleries and museums to house their archives and valuables in climate-controlled environments.  Some galleries and museums have come into possession of masterpieces such as University of Virginia’s Andy Warhol Campbell's Tomato Soup Box and Heinz Tomato Ketchup Boxes, from 1964.  Harvard, one of the oldest Universities in America, has a very extensive permanent collection of Natural History, along with many famous paintings and sculptures. 

England’s universities are not much different in that respect. Oxford has many museums of history and science which hold national importance and receive funding straight from the government.  Interestingly enough they also do not have university galleries and museums like in America, where there are approximately 631. Many English universities do however house some art, just not in a museum or gallery.  This might have to do with a lack of budget set aside for that sort of thing in a university setting.

            The American universities have had many funding reductions from the Federal government along with the State and City governments.  These substantial cuts for the arts have been noted extensively, reported by Jillian Berman from USA Today’s report.  She has a quote from the American Association for Museums (AAM) president Ford Bell that the loss in three of the largest funding sources for museums has been a “triple whammy.” Bell goes on to explain that the attendance of museums is still very strong; however, it is not enough to run a museum or gallery efficiently.  This is where we start to see museums and galleries selling beautiful works of art to keep themselves afloat. By selling the artwork they lose their trust with the donors and get in the bad books of the AAM, losing further funding.  If a gallery or museum tries to look for outside funding from private companies and sponsors, there are typically stipulations such as displaying company logos, occasionally hosting particular exhibitions or even free admission.  This is not the only stipulation; if a museum or gallery receives funding from one association, they then are typically not qualified to receive funds from any other association.  

The average operating cost of a “small” museum is about $250,000 a year, which may be a rather low estimate. This standard operating cost has to cover basic utilities needed to operate, educate, preserve and run the collection management. Often times the first budget cut shortens the number of staff and then the next cut shortens the operating hours. Museums will sometimes auction off pieces to further grow the permanent collection. The process is in line with regulations established by the AAM and the works of art have to conform to a rigorous checklist before it can be auctioned off. The money received does not go to any of the operating costs but rather to form a more cohesive collection of art that is in better condition, not necessarily a parallel purchase. Though it is not ideal, this is one approach to growing a collection in stressful economic times.

            When museums and galleries resort to reducing staff, they are able to make money and receive help by employing volunteers, charging for parking and even implementing entrance costs, in order to avoid selling works.  Increased advertising as well as fundraisers become necessary to compensate for the shrinking of endowments.  

Almost all of the university museums and galleries in America and England have had their funding from the government reduced, and the larger grants are only given to those who can prove the significance of their educational value.  Almost all the universities in America have a Standards of Learning (SOL) program to help children in grade K-12 pass their assessment tests.  The interesting aspect is that teachers have to demonstrate their ability to teach the masses by providing internships and doing partnerships with research.  

Oxford’s museums are based around hosting research groups and thesis work; they even allow the patrons to handle some of the artifacts under supervision.  This differs from the traditional museum; Oxford’s Museum of the History of Science for example allows its viewers to handle some of the old mechanisms to have a further grasp of the early thinkers.  They also receive funding from the government as well as the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for England, or HEFCA, as well as many other private vendors.   


                                
The Pitt Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford

The American Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, also known as the AAMG, was founded in 1980. Their mission statement is:

 Establishes and supports best practices, educational activities and professional development that enable its member organizations to fulfill their educational missions.

The AAMG currently is helping to fund Virginia colleges and universities such as University of Mary Washington’s Garl Melchers Home and Studio, University of Virginia's Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art collection, James Madison University’s Madison Art Collection, University of Richmond’s Museum, and The College of William & Mary’s Muscarelle Museum of Art.  David Robertson, the President of The American Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, states on the online web site that the, “Board is actively discussing the museum accreditation process with AAM [American Association of Museums] to make it more amenable to academic museums than it has been in the past.”1 So, furthering a point of if a gallery or museum became in “bad standing” with the AAM, they would have trouble getting funding with the AAMG, or if they receive a large fund from the AAM they probably will not receive much from the AAMG and vice versa. Simply because they refer back to the other's records. Overall, to stay funded, a museum or gallery must stay on good terms with both the AAM and the AAMG by paying their dues, keeping up to museum specifications, and not selling off their collection. 

            The National Endowments for the Humanities in the past has been a large funder of the arts.  Looking back in their records it came as no surprise that funding for the galleries has almost disappeared and library grants are as small as $2,000, while public programming has grown.2 Only one or two records of schools in Virginia could be found, including George Mason University and the University of Virginia, which received the majority of donations.

In England, they have an organization called the University Museums Group (UMG) whose mission statement is very similar to that of the AAMG. Founded in May of 2004, the University Museums Group:3 

Supports and advocates for the university museum sector in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. University museums in Scotland have their own organization, UMIS which works closely with UMG.

However, the UMG is simply a forum for communication and “dissemination of good practice.”4 Essentially, this is the same concept that the AAM has in America.  The BBC news has publicized that the budget cuts have made it to buildings such as the York Minister and Railway Museum, which will no longer undergo restoration.  The York holds what is believed to be the largest medieval window, valued at 27 million Euros.5 They have resorted to looking elsewhere to find funding such as donations.  According to BBC News’s, Hannah Richard’s reports that, “a cut of around £3.2bn in state funding. Richards then reports that it would imply that this would represent a 79% cut in the teaching grant.  Browne figures confirm our worst fears.  Cuts in the order of £1bn for research also appear to be proposed.6  This is bad news from England because it means the cuts start with the education system.  Universities in the United States must then raise tuition to offset the funding cuts.  England’s government won a vote in the House of Commons, which would result in universities eventually being able to charge students up to £9,000 a year for the annual tuition costs; for students this would be a £6000 increase. For the most part, student tuition has stayed the same as opposed to here, and as a result universities will be more likely to sell off their collections.  The irony of this is that according to the report, higher education stimulates massive economic growth.  They expect graduate students to make a greater contribution to their education.  If the students have to be able to fund the universities, the quality of education would be at risk.  This then influences the universities’ ability to maintain their galleries and museums if in fact they have any.

            In America there have been arguments over the role of museums and galleries in society in the age of the Internet.  Due to the technological advances in the Internet, it is now possible to make available to the public virtual tours of museums so that the "visitor" can examine and interpret artwork and artifacts through their computer screens. This has raised the question of why these places are needed. The museums have been struggling for a reason to exist and have turned to the education of the masses.  With the attendance of museums still good, this was not very difficult. 

The Feudal Grant, the National Endowments for the Humanities has given up to $6,000 for small institutions to help fund educational programs.  The National Institute for Conservation will give grants for storage, facilities, and training staff on maintenance.  The Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Museums for America grant it funds, range between $5000 to $150,000 for two-year projects hosting education, exhibition, collection management, policy creation, and training.7 There are also countless city and town community foundations that can help, including fundraisers like lotteries.  Lastly, there have also been corporate sponsorships. Connections are vital, and friendships can be a key factor for getting high quality exhibitions.  Museums that sell catalogs, prints and replicas can turn a small profit.  Some Virginia Museums such as the Muscarelle Museum of Art have a five-dollar entrance fee, which also makes a decent profit for the gallery.  Galleries have had to make all their exhibitions count to have a profitable turn out, and being able to host not only the public but the university students as well. 

                                       Muscarelle Museum of Art at William and Mary image from 
                                                          http://livinginwilliamsburgvirginia.blogspot.com
                Perhaps one of the most controversial galleries to receive funding is the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University.  The University was undergoing bankruptcy and had a very valuable collection of modern art works by well known artists such as Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Morris Louis, James Rosenquist, and Andy Warhol which they decided to deaccession.   This made the news and gained the attention of the American Association of Museum Directors.  The president of the American Association of the Museum Directors, Arnold L. Lehman described it as “like selling one of your children to feed the others, in an article featured in the New York Times by William Honan.8 This was justified, as the proceeds were needed to cover operating expenses by the vice president of Brandeis University, David Rosen.   The controversy has brought up many arguments over the value of education versus arts funding.  Rosen goes on to say; “consequently, departments that do not generate sufficient funds to support their programs have been asked to find ways to make themselves self-sufficient.”9  They justified the auctioned work because they wanted to focus their collection on modern American works.   The auction brought in a total of  $3.65 million dollars resulting in an endowment that will “pay for acquisitions, education and conservation.”9  Brandeis has been criticized for taking the easy way out of solving their financial obligations and have had a very difficult time reestablishing their name as an accredited art gallery.  As previously stated, the trust is lost because when donating a piece of art work the donors expect it to be shown and housed not sold and used to pay for other things such as utilities.

            This leads us to the question of what is more valuable, education or art?  What is the purpose of university art museums and galleries?  And the unanswerable, what is art if not educational? These questions do not stop on the United States' coast, but to England’s as well. Art is the soul of inspiration, culture, history and education.  It is a vital part of society, and needs protection from the financial pressures of a recession.  It should not be the scapegoat for budget cuts when times get rough but rather a priceless treasure to be protected.  The arts' values never depreciate but like a rare jewel maintain their worth and become a short glimpse into our past. 

1.Chew, Ron. "In Praise of the Small Museum." AAM: Welcome to the American Association of Museums. http://www.aam-us.org/pubs/mn/MN_MA02_SmallMuseums.cfm (accessed March 4, 2011).

2. Government donation records, "Heritage Preservation: Ensuring the preservation of America's cultural heritage." Heritage Preservation: Ensuring the preservation of America's cultural heritage. http://www.heritagepreservation.org/ABOUTHP/INFO.HTM (accessed March 8, 2011).

3.Richardson, Hannah. "BBC News - Spending Review: Universities 'to face £4.2bn cut'." BBC - Homepage. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-11550619 (accessed March 8, 2011).

 4. Keeping the gallery/museum in speck with proper equipment, regulation, and  security. 

5. and 6."BBC News - York Minster and railway museum funding hopes dashed." BBC - Homepage. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-10786095 (accessed March 4, 2011).

7. The Institute for the Museum and Library Services

8.HONAN, WILLIAM H.. "Brandeis Plan to Sell Art Is Criticized - New York Times." The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. http://www.nytimes.com/1991/10/19/arts/brandeis-plan-to-sell-art-is-criticized.html (accessed March 8, 2011).

9. Brandeis Plan to Sell Art Is Criticized By William H. Honan Published: October 19, 1991

Bibleography

" AHRC Home." AHRC Home. http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/ (accessed March 4, 2011).

"AAM: Welcome to the American Association of Museums." AAM: Welcome to the American Association of Museums. http://www.aam-us.org/ (accessed March 2, 2011).

"BBC News - York Minster and railway museum funding hopes dashed." BBC - Homepage. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-10786095 (accessed March 4, 2011).

Chew, Ron. "In Praise of the Small Museum." AAM: Welcome to the American Association of Museums. http://www.aam-us.org/pubs/mn/MN_MA02_SmallMuseums.cfm (accessed March 4, 2011).

De Groft, a. "University Museum Methods." Class lecture, Museum Methods from Virginia Commonwealth University, Williamsburg, February 16, 2011.

Higher Education Funding Council for England." Higher Education Funding Council for England. http://www.hefce.ac.uk/ (accessed March 4, 2011).

"Heritage Preservation: Ensuring the preservation of America's cultural heritage." Heritage Preservation: Ensuring the preservation of America's cultural heritage. http://www.heritagepreservation.org/ABOUTHP/INFO.HTM (accessed March 8, 2011).

HONAN, WILLIAM H.. "Brandeis Plan to Sell Art Is Criticized - New York Times." The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. http://www.nytimes.com/1991/10/19/arts/brandeis-plan-to-sell-art-is-criticized.html (accessed March 8, 2011).

Blackboard...., e bye. "MHS - Museum of the History of Science, Oxford - ." MHS - Museum of the History of Science, Oxford - . http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/ (accessed March 8, 2011).

Richardson, Hannah. "BBC News - Spending Review: Universities 'to face £4.2bn cut'." BBC - Homepage. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-11550619 (accessed March 8, 2011).

Stumm, Carey. "How to Get Funding for a Small Museum | eHow.com." eHow | How To Do Just About Everything! | How To Videos & Articles. http://www.ehow.com/how_5889634_funding-small-museum.html (accessed March 1, 2011).