New Research: Government urged to support flagging British museums

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New survey shows 58% of Britons haven’t visited a museum in the past year
Government statistics confirm that museum visitor numbers were more than 10% down year-on-year in December 2015
Recent Museums Association report warned that a lack of funding is forcing many museums to charge an entrance fee or completely close down sections of their attraction
MD of leading museum audio, video and lighting specialist urges the government to increase cultural budgets

New research undertaken by audio, video and lighting specialists AVonics has shown that UK museums are losing their appeal.

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The company’s latest survey found that 58% of Britons haven’t visited a museum in the past 12 months. This figure rose to 63% for the 18 to 24 age group, while 35 to 44-year-olds were the most likely to have visited such an attraction in the last year (more than half of this demographic had been to a museum during this time).

These findings are published shortly after new data released by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport confirmed that visits to sponsored museums fell by more than 10% in December 2015, when compared with the corresponding month in 2014.

Earlier this year, the Museums Association reported that almost one in five of all UK museums had either closed parts of their attractions to visitors in 2015, or plan to do so this year. Financial constraints have also forced a similar number of venues to start charging entrance fees.

Since 2010, more than 40 museums have closed across the country, and this latest research appears to show that many members of the public are looking elsewhere for their entertainment fix.

John Marsh, Managing Director at AVonics, said that funding limitations are holding many museums back at a time when they need to pull out all the stops to attract new visitors, especially from the younger generations.

“Our survey showed that people under the age of 24 were the least likely to have visited a museum in the past 12 months, which perhaps suggests that many attractions need to think about how they can connect with this particular demographic,” he commented.

“Immersive experiences are big in 2016, and museums that invest in facilities that take visitors on an incredible journey will ultimately reap the rewards. However, money is extremely tight and a lot of museums rely heavily on volunteers already, so they have little option but to charge an entrance fee.

“It’s a vicious circle, as the more money you charge, visitors’ expectations will inevitably be higher. Yet with little money to invest back into the facilities, making sure that paying customers leave suitably impressed is a tall order.”

Figures show that local authorities have cut cultural spending by more than a quarter since 2010, and John feels this trend needs to be reversed if the UK’s museums are to survive.

“Museums are crucial for educational and leisure purposes, and it’d be a real shame if more attractions are forced to close their doors in 2016 because they can’t make ends meet. The government needs to ensure that innovative, immersive attractions are given the support they need.”

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