Volunteers in West Midlands museums and galleries outnumber paid employees by more than 2:1

Forthcoming research from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council will highlight the abundance of volunteers working within local museums and galleries.

Given the increasing interest in the role of volunteering can play in keeping people ‘job ready’ during the recession, this finding may well attract interest from beyond the heritage sector.

Along with a detailed look at the profile of the workforce, Fast Forward 2008 will provide an update on a range of variables, including levels of visiting and average service standards (disability access, audience development, and so on) within West Midlands museums.

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Changes to regional cultural co-ordination

Arts Minister, Margaret Hodge has announced the closure of the Regional Cultural Consortiums by March 2009.

Her intention is that in their place, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s four key agencies in the regions – Arts Council England, Sport England, English Heritage and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council – will have a duty to work together to jointly deliver a core set of shared priorities across the culture and sport agenda.

In terms of regional cultural research, this change in structure may have implications for the future of the West Midlands Cultural Observatory. In the meantime, the Cultural Research Analyst post that supports this initiative is currently funded until March 2009 and there is a strong commitment to joined-up cultural research by regional cultural agencies.

It would be interesting to know your thoughts on this topic. For example, you may have a view on which elements of regional cultural research should, if possible, be retained under the new structure?