A new report by Museum Development England reveals the far reaching impact of the Pandemic on 765 museums and their audiences, finances and workforce.  It highlights the significant differences in how this impact has been felt across the sector depending on key factors such as the region a museum is located in or whether it is based in an urban or rural setting.

Operating since 2018, The Annual Museum Survey 2021 compares data with previous years to understand the depth of this impact and the pressures it has placed on the museum sector’s paid and volunteer workforce.   Those museums with larger audience numbers, Local Authority museums, museum services operating multiple museum sites and museums based in urban areas all appear to have been hit hardest.  In relation to their fellow museums, they have reported greater income losses, made more staff redundancies and experienced a deeper loss of volunteer capacity.

The key insights include:

  • Museums in urban areas experienced a 90% reduction in admissions income compared to a 60% reduction for rural museums
  • Museums with paid staff saw a median reduction in admissions income of 71% compared to 37% for those museums that are wholly volunteer run
  • Museums that charge for admissions were almost twice as likely to have secured DCMS Culture Recovery Fund grants than those that don’t
  • The decrease in income appears to be most severe for local authority museums with 77% reporting a decrease in income
  • 24% of Local Authority museums participated in the furlough scheme compared to 49% of Independent and 68% of University museums
  • The number of volunteers in museums fell by 19% overall, but increased significant to 62% for larger museums and those operating multiple sites
  • Museums reported a 74% reduction in the number of volunteer hours contributed.

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