Published  02/11/2007

Political Olympic football games

It's an ill wind that blows no one any good. Just as the Conservative Party had earlier this year done a U-turn on museums and galleries admission charges, coming out against reimposing them, came bad portents. Tessa Jowell's grim news of a further Olympic funding overrun on existing revised budgets ripples across the same Ministry so to offer the news that the Lottery Fund and Treasury funds for museums and galleries would have to be raided to cover part of the shortfall. Museums and galleries are going to be strapped for funds over the next decade. Charles Saumarez Smith, outgoing Director of the National Gallery, was one who strongly voiced the predicament and its effect on all museums and galleries. Clearly under some politically derived pressure, he wisely stepped sideways to take up the post of Chief Executive at the Royal Academy. An example of the type of institution in line for cuts is the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester. This has been a recent success story following its offering of free admission to the public in place of £6 entry charges per adult (£4 per child); it now looks likely to be hit. Ironically the sign over the entry point to the Museum has the profile of a guillotine. What next from Arts and Culture? It seems that the Olympic portfolio is the one job the late Minister, Tessa Jowell, retains. Who next?

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