Chair of the Cultural Research & Intelligence Group and Chief Executive of Museums, Libraries & Archives (MLA) in the West Midlands, Jon Finch provides some insight into the current situation for regional cultural research:
“It is a time of huge change for cultural agencies at a national and regional level. In July of this year Margaret Hodge announced plans to disband the regional Cultural Consortia, and tasked the ‘big’ four NDPBs (Art Council England, English Heritage, MLA and Sport England) to work together more closely at a regional level.
Clearly the winding down of Culture West Midlands, alongside the major changes taking place at both Sport England and MLA in the region, will have a major impact on the future of the Cultural Research and Information Group and Newsletter, and Lauren in her role as Cultural Research Analyst. Neither Hodge, in her initial report, or the National Chief Executives of the main Non-Departmental Public Bodies, as of yet, have specified that they expect a cultural research function to be maintained at a regional level.
Each region is tasked with developing an action plan to meet the challenges, set down by the previous Minister of Culture, in the coming weeks. The West Midlands plan has identified a need for a cultural research function to continue to service the other priorities; I believe other regions have done the same. We hope to identify whether there will be a national expectation concerning such a research mechanism or whether we need to identify a regional solution in the near future. Naturally we will keep you all informed of progress and we would like to hear your views on the matter.”
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