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Realising the Vision Together

Summary 

Museums Galleries Scotland has published two National Strategy Delivery Plans to provide a structured approach to achieving the aims and objectives of Going Further: The National Strategy for Scotland's Museums and Galleries. The second, Realising the Vision, spanned from 2015 to 2019.

As the period covered by Realising the Vision draws to an end, this report highlights and celebrates just some of the many achievements of Scotland’s museums and galleries against the aims of the National Strategy and Delivery Plan objectives.

Over this time, the sector has changed in light of the financial and political climate. There are now 22 local authorities that deliver cultural and leisure services through arms-length trusts, reflecting a focus on new ways to generate income and achieve savings.

Local Authority core grants from the Scottish Government have decreased by 9.6% over the past eight years. Larger budgets, often including important regulatory functions, have stood relatively still, while over the past five years, local authority spend on culture has decreased by 11%. At the same time, visits to museums and galleries have increased by nearly 30%, reflecting the popularity of Scottish heritage as a destination: museums and galleries are listed as six of the top ten most visited tourist attractions by Visit Scotland. This corresponds to a reduction in the cost-per-visit to museums and galleries of over 25%.

The financial constraints within Local Authorities have had a knock-on effect on the independent museum sector, as grant funding often sustaining core aspects of museum work has been cut. Difficult decisions are being considered and made across the Scottish cultural landscape. Yet as a sector, even in light of these challenges, ‘Scottish Museums’ are forming partnerships, exploring new ways of working, developing new sources of revenue generation, and engaging with our changing communities and audiences in new and exciting ways.

Despite the difficult climate, capital investment in the infrastructure of heritage in Scotland has continued. From the Borders to Stornoway, new museums have been established, museums have found new homes in mixed- and multi-use developments, and well-established, well-loved museums have undergone redevelopments, extensions, and re-displays.
We’re aligning our work and impacts with wider agendas, working with partners outside the sector, and exploring our impact on areas of the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework with which we haven’t traditionally been associated.

This level of investment, led by Scottish Government and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, as well as Local Authorities and others, is hugely welcome and transformational for the sector. The challenge looking forward is to ensure that sufficient revenue resource is available to realise the potential of these investments and to deliver the funding for core activity that is vital for the sector to thrive and develop.

Ultimately, this report outlines how, despite financial and political uncertainty, the museums and galleries sector and its passionate paid and volunteer workforce have worked tirelessly to achieve the aims and objectives of Realising the Vision.

Download the full report

Download Realising the Vision Together: Evaluation of the Second National Strategy Delivery Plan (PDF, 771KB)
Published October 2019