The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) will be axed as part of the government's extensive cost-cutting drive, and more bodies could follow.
After a review of its arm’s length bodies, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport revealed it will abolish the MLA to “focus efforts on front-line, essential services and ensure greater value for money”.
In the statement, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt pledged that government support for museums, libraries and archives will continue, just in a different guise.
Hunt said: “Many of these bodies were set up a considerable length of time ago, and times and demands have changed. In the light of the current financial situation, and as part of our drive to increase openness and efficiency across Whitehall, it is the right time to look again at the role, size and scope of these organisations.”
The changes will also see the UK Film Council axed and a direct and less bureaucratic relationship with the British Film Institute established, while UK Sport and Sport England will merge.
In response to the news that the MLA will be wound up by April 2012, Chair Sir Andrew Motion and Chief Executive Roy Clare called for calm.
In a joint statement they said: “Stormy seas call for cool heads and steady hands. The team in the MLA have worked tirelessly and with commendable commitment to develop the capacity of the organisation since 2007. Now, faced with an unforeseen degree of economic pressure, government has chosen to balance the books and to prioritise the rationalisation of its existing cultural agencies as a contribution,” they said in a joint statement.
“As a result we will work methodically and calmly to continue to deliver a vibrant and effective expert service for the public who rightly expect excellent, sustainable museums, libraries and record offices in their local neighbourhoods.”
DCMS also revealed that it is looking at its responsibility for heritage and the built environment, and considering the role and remit of English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
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