The Horniman Museum to lose its funding after 2015 [UPDATED]

Principal Skinner: We can buy real periodic tables instead of these promotional ones from Oscar Meyer.
Edna Krabappel: Who can tell me the atomic weight of bolognium?
Martin: Ooh ... delicious?
Edna Krabappel: Correct. I would also accept snacktacular.
- The Simpsons

Artlyst reports that the Horniman Museum and Gardens are among eight national museums that will lose their funding from central government. One of South East London's best-loved treasures will have to raise funding from Lewisham Council or the private sector or face closure. It says:

The DCMS as part of its four-year business plan, has announced, it will no longer fund eight Museums that it currently sponsors. It will scrap national funding of “museums that should be the responsibility of local communities”. This effects eight non-national museums: the Design Museum; the Geffrye Museum; the Horniman Museum and Gardens; the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester; the National Coal Mining Museum for England; the National Football Museum; the People’s History Museum; and Tyne and Wear Museums. These institutions will now be turned over to their local communities for funding. If this is unworkable and private funding unavailable, they will simply shut.

However, the Museums Journal notes that funding is secure until 2015, and the Horniman itself has issued a statement saying that funding has been ringfenced for four years, which is looking on the bright side. Longer-term, the DCMS hopes to encourage more philanthropic support for museums. Raising funds from Lewisham Council, already struggling to sustain local libraries, will be tricky.

With thanks to 'D'.


Kate said...

In an interview I did with Janet Vitmayer last week which appeared in the SLP she said funding had been cut by 15 per cent from central government but not completely cut. They will face a £1million shortfall by 2014.

Brockley Nick said...

Yeah, I've had to update the article because the original Artlyst article was slightly on the gloomy side.

Tim said...

This is sad, but cuts are a fact of life. If it's any consolation, the government's austerity measures ARE working. Countries all over Europe are getting penalised by the bond markets, and their economies will be (more) devastated as a consequence. We are now one of the most highly regarded countries there is, which was not true 6 months ago. This is because we've been brave enough to make decisions like the one made today.
I am a very occasionally cultured person, but have never been enticed to the Horniman, and am not entirely sure what is there. I think that tells a bit of a story about how much of a local asset it is. Given that there is not much else (culturally) to do in this area of London, I would have thought that if it's any good, the community should be able to easily rally round, and find a way of funding it.

Anonymous said...

Well, when you say cuts are working it depends whether you're one of the people tipped out of work. If the private sector does not fill the gap, the tax cut will drop, benefit payments will rise - double dip and the sharks circle. We'll see, I'm no economist but learned opinion seems split.

As for spend on the arts, well you could cut it to zero but personally I like to live In a country that celebrates it's cultural life.

Still there's a royal wedding next year

Lou Baker said...

Entrance fee.

Problem sorted.

Brockley Nick said...

Yes Lou, of course you can do that, although charging an entrance fee to the gardens might be tricky. But doing so would inevitably mean fewer visitors and that some people would stop going entirely. That would be a shame.

mollhench said...

The Horniman is an excellent community resource and always full of people, especially families with young children. An entrance fee would see a massive reduction in the numbers of people able to access the museum on a regular basis. It would be devastating if it were to close or to be made available only to those wealthy enough to afford to go along. I can't believe people on this blog are so happy to accept the inevitability of the cuts and are not raging about what it is going to do to our cultural landscape - especially in an area where Tim rightly says there is 'not much else culturally to do'. It is an absolute scandal that such a treasured museum should lose its funding. Let's hope a rich banker spends his/her bonus on securing it's future.

Rolls eyes said...

Yawn... It's the professional cynic. Still smarting from his loss in the great ELL debate. Presumably you disagree with subsidies in general? Want to guess how much your season ticket would be without it?

Anonymous said...

I think we can assume that Lou has no interest whatsoever in any one else.

max said...

Awefully bad decision.

Lou, your opinion is that of a barbarian, free entry at museums is a true conquest of civilization.

I appreciate free entry at museums not because it saves me money but because it makes museums public places, just as streets are, with the difference that they provide an all weather, safe and enriching experience to all.

Tom said...

"If it's any consolation, the government's austerity measures ARE working"

They haven't actually started yet, have they? I mean, if all it took to save us from penury was shutting a few museums, then fine, but it isn't, is it? Taxing where the money is and growing the economy are what works, not hair shirt masochism. Check the monthly borrowing figures some time.

This is actually part of the ideological war the Government is fighting quite regardless of the economic situation, which involves the usual Thatcherite societal destruction that comes with socialising losses and privatising profits.

"We are now one of the most highly regarded countries there is, which was not true 6 months ago"

Um, are you aware of Ireland? Small country, a bit to the left of us? They did some massive cutting to stay in favour with the bond market, as if that was more important than looking after their people, and are still completely boned and the people are extremely angry. You might want to look up what George Osborne, whose fault this is, said about Ireland in 2006 before you start with the bland assurances.

Deptford Pudding said...

What about free entrance to St Pauls
or Westminster Abbey? Their fees are ludicrous.

Tim said...

Sigh, same old arguments from a deficit denier. Do you really think it is a sensible idea to keep on spending, in the hope it pulls us out of recession?
The IMF think we've done the right thing. The markets think we've done the right thing. The rating agencies think we've done the right thing. And if they're all wrong, at least we are a lot further away from being bankrupt than with your scheme of spending and hoping. Plus, is it not morally wrong to just keep on spending money that we as a nation do not have?
One of the main reasons why we are not in the same mire as Ireland is because we didn't enter the Euro, and held on to monetary sovereignty. Giving that up was a Lib Dem and Labour policy. If we were in the Euro, we would be in something much closer to the Irish situation.

Brockley Nick said...

Giving up the pound was a Labour policy? And yet in 13 years, they didn't do it. I guess you'll be thanking that nice man Gordon Brown?

Lou Baker said...



It is not barbaric to suggest things should pay their way. Are cinemas subsidised? Mostly, no. Are 10
pin bowling alleys? No. Are pubs and clubs? No.

These are the activities popular in poorer communities.

Yet you think your **insert random indulgent exhibition** should be taxpayer funded?

Be clear - it is not the working class going
to the Opera and Horniman. It is middle class people who
just can't be bothered to pay.

Perhaps you could save up by swapping Waitrose for Morrisons?

Brockley Nick said...

@Lou - so certain are you about what the working classes like to do? The Horniman attracts a very wide range of visitors, as far as I can tell. Max described beautifully why free museums are so wonderful. Like parks, which I believe some working class people venture in to occasionally too, there is a role for free spaces.

max said...

Lou, are you now using class war arguments to justify giving up on a conquest of civilization?
Bashing the middle classes as a legitimate target? What's happened to you? Will we see you selling the Socialist Worker soon?

The success of museums is not measured in money but in attendance, and that number is an asset for our society, if entrance is free it'll go up, also among groups that are not yet making enough use of them.

Howson Road said...

@ Lou

Yes, museums are completely upper class aren't they...that would explain the wonderful number of free museums in Liverpool wouldn't it...which I spend many days of my childhood in...

Howson Road said...


bridget. said...

Cannot believe cuts are even being considered. Tim, you say you've never been to the Horniman... where have you been? Do you have children? If you don't know what's at the Horniman then I highly doubt it. Basically very school in Forest Hill, East Dulwich, Peckham, Honor Oak and the surrounding area went there for school trips all the time!

I'm 19 now and the Horniman was a HUGE asset to my childhood. I live locally and my primary school is very close, so I'd often end up wandering around the gardens, fascinated by the stuffed animals or looking at the African exhibit at the Horniman after school.

As someone whose parents simply could not afford to take me to the fancy central London museums (10 years ago you had to pay) the simple fact that the Horniman was and still is FREE was a huge draw. If it starts charging an entrance fee then the idea that one can just wander in and learn something new will no longer exist.

The fact the Horniman is one of very, very few places in South-East London that have a high cultural value for all ages is also a factor - what else is left for us south of the River? I know my parents, who both worked full time, struggled enough with finding spare time to take me to the Horniman - when would others in the same position have the time to take their kids up to North, West or Central London to any of the museums there?

Every single one of my friends who grew up in the area has some kind of connection to the museum. We ALL went on school trips there, and went over to get help with geography, biology and history school work as the years went on. My friend even went there recently for help with her A Level Chemistry coursework! There is nothing else in this part of London that even compares and I really fear that even a small cut in the amount they spend on resources could potentially destroy or devalue an essential part of South-East London. SAVE THE HORNIMAN!

bridget. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bridget. said...


just saw your comment and am a little bit angry. As someone who is very working class, went to a school that wasn't very good and pretty much all my friends are in the same position, I can say that the Horniman was a lifesaver for our primary school teachers. Trips our of the classroom that we didn't need to pay for and we could walk to? Perfect for all classes.

Lou Baker said...


The Horniman has never been free. Like the NHS, Blackheath fireworks, Crofton Park library and everything else which people on here seem to think grow on trees - it is funded through taxation. You know that 40%+ of your earnings which go in to the government pot?

I think our taxes should be much lower. If they were you would have plenty of extra money to buy your own annual Horniman pass. That way the majority of the population wouldn't have to fund your hobbies and interests.

I am sure Max and Nick wouldn't argue that Madame Tussauds or the London Eye should be free. But far more people go - and want to go - to these things than will ever go to the Horniman. But the chattering classes don't think these things are worthy. That's the difference. Frankly I think it's barking to sudsidise comparitively unpopular things for the so called national good. And if things can survive without being subsidised - Tate Modern - they should.

You only have to visit the Horniman and count the number of Bugaboos (£500 a time) to realise it mostly ain't the kids from Kidbrooke, Deptford and Peckham who hang out there. It's yummy mummies from Dulwich. They can afford the entrance fee. And if the Horniman is sensible it will offer discount tickets to kids - like many successful, unsubsidised attractions do.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure these Patrons of 2008 could knock up a some dosh...

Sir David Attenborough OM CH CVO
Floella Benjamin OBE
Chris de Burgh
Rolf Harris CBE
Jools Holland
Mick Jagger
Tom Jones OBE
Annie Lennox
Timothy Spall OBE FRSA

I can see a benefit concert in the gardens...

Anonymous said...

Part of a statement issued by the museum last Friday...

Discussions regarding the Horniman are at an early stage and no decisions have been taken.

DCMS hopes to make an announcement by March 2011 as to any new sponsor and for arrangements to be complete by the end of the current Spending Period (2014/15).

This demonstrates the level of care being taken over any potential change of status.

.... we are encouraged that DCMS recognises the importance of our collections and public offer by placing us in its protected 15% cut category.

Poor old miserable Lou said...

Yes Lou nothing is truley free, you have to decide what should be state funded so that it's free, or subsidised, at point off use so that those with little are not excluded. We look at things that contribute to the general well being of the country and decided which things we should ALL contribute too and which we ask users to pay more. Higher education is rebalancing toward to user.

We could charge for schools based on use. Why should a large chunk of my taxes pay for your kids? Why should a portion of my taxes pay for the upkeep of recreation in Hull? I like living in a comunity where your not disadvantaged due to the circumstances you find yourself in, you resent it.

Brockley Nick said...

@Lou - I get it. You don't like public provision of anything. That's a point of view.

I think some things should be public. And call me a patrician elitist, but I think that educational museums are different to houses of wax. I think CBeebies should be public, whereas Transformers can fend for itself. I think Bluewater should be privately funded, but Greenwich Park should be public. And so on.

Where you draw the line between private and public is a matter for grown up debate.

As for the bugaboo thing, you have just made that up. Not that I'm convinced they're an indicator of wealth anyway - lots of people buy insanely expensive, over-specced buggies that don't fit properly on buses or in the boot of a small, car, even if they are of modest means...

Anonymous said...

you may notice that the word 'free' is carved in stone on the front of the building . . .

Anonymous said...

In over a year ago the museum began considering plans over future funding including charges for school visits we was introduced in September.

From their Financial report March 2010...

We do however need to prioritise the challenge of significant long term public sector funding cuts and the radical reshaping of the public sector planned over the next few years.

In the light of this and the increasing urgency to cut public spending and diversify our income we will be introducing a range of measures to secure the future sustainability of the Trust.

This will include: increasing our self generated income; expanding individual giving; building on excellent relationships with Trusts; Foundations and Lottery funders; expanding our relationship with key south London local authorities whose constituents we serve; introducing new charges for a range of services; building our contacts in Europe to enhance our ability to
secure funds from the European Community, and working in close
partnership with other providers whose agendas are synergistic with
our own.


Income: £5.92m
Operating Costs: £5.99m

Throw in Capital costs and the defecit rises to roughly £200,000

Government grant: £4.6m

But it states funds carried forward = £27.5m

Anonymous said...

Rich (founder of the Tea Party) capitalist MP handed over the museum and gardens to the LCC in 1901 on the proviso the public have 'free' access forever.

But as can be seen the trust can charge for additional services such as hiring out the conservatory for weddings.

It's all very well and kindly of these rich capitalists to hand stuff over to the public but how did they as entrepeneurs expect the collections to be maintained?

DJ said...

Lou doesn't do grown up debate - his world is purely black and white. Students are lazy, poor people are lazy, the working class only like Sky TV and spend all their money on booze etc etc.

If only life were as simple as Lou.

Tamsin said...

The Horniman could not/should not charge - it would not even make economic sense as it is off the tourist track.

Like the Livesey (not so well endowed, not so rich and varied, and now gone) - a life-saver for local schools. Given the complexity of getting primary school children especially out on school trips something on our doorsteps in south east London is crucial. It MUST not close and should not go down the route of charging for entry.

Matt-Z said...

Lou's idea of super-small, low-tax state where the governemnt does the bare minimum and everyone fends for themselves doesn't sound like a place where I want to live. The Taxpayers Alliance would be proud of him though.

As an aside the Livesey Museum was handed over to the nation in perpetuity but remains firmly closed under Southwark (although since control of the council changed to Labour there are rumblings that something may happen).

Anonymous said...

Interestingly when basic rate taxe was lowered form 33% the actual tax revenue rose.

Forest Hill now has the ELL, the museum has increased visitors via that transport coridor.

The trustees plan to build on that in connection with the Olympics.

Anonymous said...

How about a scan of Kate Gould's photo in the Mercury?

Bridget McKenzie said...

There are some really worrying cuts to cultural services. But, this story needs to be put in perspective. The DCMS published its business plan last week, with one line about options for relinguishing control and sponsorship of non-national museums. There was wild speculation about this meaning closure. What it relates to is correcting an administrative anomaly whereby these non-nationals were caught in a limbo between DCMS and local management. Though there will be financial shortfalls, as for everyone, the announcement does potentially offer opportunities for these museums if there is a chance for proper options analysis. Most of the Coalition's decisions have been far too rapid but this scenario may allow time for thought.

Anonymous said...

"Interestingly when basic rate taxe was lowered form 33% the actual tax revenue rose."

It's a variety of things that contribute to that. If there is 100% employment, so fewer benefits being paid and people spending then yes tax can be lowered and you would still get a higher total tax take. If people are loosing their jobs, you pay out more in benefits etc... the tax take reduces - even if you increase the rate marginally. That's a balance all governments make. Remember chaps, VAT is up next year.

Anonymous said...

@Tamsin - what do you propose then? How are they supposed to stay open if they've got no money?
I work in the arts, as a fundraiser. According to the Arts Council 75% of people (not sure who was polled) think the arts should be self funded, but no one wants to pay for entry. I think it's called having your cake and eating it...

Anonymous said...

YOu could apply that statistic to many of our currently funded public services. People always want their cake and to eat it, people need to give it some thought.

Anonymous said...


Can you explain you link between not joining the Euro and being in a better condition than Ireland?

As if a currency is responsible for the lack of control on Banks. Gordon and the Labour private and public Debt expansion policy are to blaim for the financial disaster. It was also Gordon who wrote a cheque to his fellow Scottish and non Scottish bankers.

Germany is at the center of the Euro and has been doing far better than England during the crisis, and growing faster now that the crisis is at the end.

I understand it fits with cheap nationalistic propaganda, but the reality is that if it wasn't for the Euro the crisis would have been far worse for many countries including Ireland.

An Example? Iceland

Anonymous said...

so it's a scottish conspiracy? that's clear then.

The labour government bailed out uk banks, the US neocon Rebublican government bailed out US banks, the Conservative government is prepared to help bail out the Irish state. The left/right party political debate is a little dull. The fact is that these institutions (state and private) control huge amounts of money, it's in no ones interest if they fail.

Michael said...

Free museums are relatively uncommon in the world - try finding one when visiting North America or Europe. This does not make them a bad idea, but access should be quid pro quo.
I would suggest giving every Londoner an entry card for all museums in the capital to encourage them to visit all of our great museums, but allowing for the museums to charge a small entry fee to all adult foreign visitors.

At present vast amounts of money fund the big national collections while the DCMS plans to target local museums for 100% cuts in public funding. If they were removing all funding from the Royal Opera House, the Tate, or the British Museum there would be a national outcry (quite right to). They are instead targeting the pittance they provide to local museums which serve more British people*.

*(Royal Opera House and Horniman have similar entry figures for 2009/10 but the ROH gets six times as much in public subsidy and does tend to cater for people from around the world, who can afford at least £50 for a ticket to the opera)

Lou Baker said...

Why should the opera receive any public funding at all?

Far more people want to see Take That in concert.

But that's not subsidised because it's not considered worthy by the worthy police.

Nick cites CBeebies. There is absolutely no justification for that being licence-tax payer funded at all.

My kids watch programmes on Five or Nick Jnr. Why should my family subsidise Nick's kids because we choose to watch Peppa Pig instead of Bob The Builder?

It's all so arbitrary and wrong.

Brockley Nick said...

Can't compare CBeebies with Five or Nick Jr.

Five is only on at one time in the morning, not during the day. Nick Jr is only available to Sky subscribers. That, and all the ads...

Anonymous said...

long live cbeebies - it allows me an extra 15 minutes snooze in the morning while son drinks milk and watches tommy zoom

max said...

@ Micheal.
I have a strong feeling that free entry at all museums is also a major selling point for London as a destination for tourists so charging would have a repercussion there.

Brockley Nick said...

@Max, yes, it is a big attraction. London's tourist economy is worth £10 billion a year (full disclosure, Visit London is a sometime client), so we could see it as an investment as well as a social good.

Michael said...

@Max I often think "Shall I go to Paris?" And then I think about the cost of entering the Louvre and change my mind and go to Manchester instead (not really).
And which are the most popular tourist destinations in London? Tower of London and London Eye - both charge. Tourists are not put off by small charges for attractions.

It is highly unlikely that charging foreign visitors for using our museums would put a dent in the £10bn London tourist industry. If this really was a good argument then we would have made the London Eye and the Tower of London free. Actually charging for access for foreign nationals to our museums would be likely to increase money made from tourism.

Mezzer said...

I don’t think that an accurate analogy. If on planning a trip to London, you had to add up the costs for visiting the London Eye, Tower of London + any museums you fancy, were they to all start charging, it could well make you change your plans.

The free museums are often stated by visitors I know as being a huge attraction.

Michael said...

this report (page 37) suggests that visitors do not regard the cost of attractions (presumably including free museums) as significantly better than any other activity in London, such as public transport.

If you wanted to attract more tourists then making public transport cheaper or subsidising hotel rooms would make considerably more difference (and cost the country much more) than subsidising central London museums for the benefit of foreign visitors.

I really don't see why tourists to London need a subsidy that Paris, New York, Amsterdam, Barcelona do not need to provide. Everybody on this planet knows that London is the best city in the world and we should not need to bribe people to come here. I would far prefer to spend the money keeping our local museums and libraries open.

max said...

I looked at what you point at and I understand entirely the opposite of what you understood.

The report says that the surveyed tourists scored London 2.8 out of 5 for Cost of Attraction and Activities, i.e. they think it's quite expensive.
Now, if you take out the free museums then they would be even more dissatisfied, isn't it?

As Mezzer also says, people visiting London are very positively impressed by the free museums and once back at home they speak about it.

And if you'd charge tourists to visit the museums you wouldn't make them spend any more than they already do because all of them have a budget for their holiday and what is saved in one place is spent in another.

Headhunter said...

I must admit, a friend of mine from Japan who lives here in London was surprised when he arrived, he noticed that museums and attractions are either free of they cost the earth like Madame Tussauds (something like £30 entry for an adult). There doesn't seem to be any halfway house. Can we not have some funding derived from entry and some from state funding? A nominal entry fee of say, a couple of quid, is not out of most people's reach. I do agree though that people living in London/the UK should be allowed free or discounted entry. Doesn't Westminster Borough offer some kind of discount card for entry to attractions within the borough for its residents?

Anonymous said...


Your statement that you have to pay "at least £50 for a ticket to the opera" is misleading.

Tickets for a popular work such as Magic Flute at ROH start from £8 for standing places and you can sit for £27 - £60 in the amphitheatre (rising to £185 in the stalls).

For a new work such as Anna Nicole, a standing place will only cost you £4 and no seat in the amphitheatre will cost you more than £41 with some as cheap as £15. Most expensive seats in the stalls are £85.

lurkerfromse13 said...

This is the first time in (over?) two years of reading this forum that I've felt minded to contribute to the debate. Most of the time I see the two or three sides put eloquently enough that I have nothing more to add.

So, here we go:

@Daphne - very well put. Despite the regeneration over the last eight years in East Dulwich and Brockley, Lewisham is still, mostly, just getting by. I can see why the Horniman is a valuable educational resource to an overstretched LEA. And a source of inspiration for schoolchildren.

From a personal perspective I love the Horniman and have spent many happy hours with nieces and friends checking out the merman (shudder), the aquarium, the collection of sundials and the chickens. And the "unusual" musical instrument room in the basement.

I hope a solution can be found which doesn't exclude families, or even bitter barren spinsters* like myself, who cannot afford £3 per head entrance fees on every visit. Maybe a £5 annual unlimited visit family pass which could also be used for school visits and for other cultural things in Lewisham which are currently free but might have to disappear or start charging in the current economic climate, with a voluntary donation if the family can afford more and is happy to do so, might work?

@ Tim - the bond market is betting on future events. It's not a vindication of a right action taken.

@ Lou - where to begin.......

1. Don't assume that "the working class" just want cinemas, 10
pin bowling alleys, pubs and clubs. They don't. Some of them want what Daphne and her classmates saw when they went to The Horniman Museum. A world beyond just "cinemas, 10
pin bowling alleys, pubs and clubs". They want something better.

2. Bugaboos and other expensive infant transportation is no indication of mummy yummyness. I see many overspecced for urban living buggies on the 136 (terminal destinations New Cross/Grove Park) and the 75 (cf Catford Bus Garage/Lewisham Station) Not mummy yummy territory.

@an anon: but personally I like to live In a country that celebrates it's cultural life,

This sort of thing makes me happy enough to ignore my inner grammar pedant.

With apologies in advance for typos missed, and grammatical errors. I'm one finger typing on opiates for a fractured wrist bound up in a shiny purple cast.

I do hope we don't lose the horniman.

You are an entertaining and informative forum.


*not really, I'm a happy childless singleton who can quite easily pay £3 for an hour's diversion.

bridget. said...

Oh dear.

@Lou, you're probably right in saying that some of parents at the Horniman are those who can afford to pay a fee, as they're able to not need to work during the day. But on weekends? Completely wrong. The museum is completely filled with parents, like mine, who valued the importance of cultural attractions but don't have the time or money to utilise them when they aren't free as the Horniman is.

Schools also have a need to have something free for schools to take children to. It is a fact that basically every school in south east London - working class, middle class, on special measures or private - used the Horniman's resources to better educate young people. The key fact should be getting kids to museums rather than them sitting at home all day or watching TV. Isn't that the most important thing?

The Horniman isn't merely a 'hobby or interest', it's a way of providing the younger generation with knowledge that will surely benefit the country in the future. With the way your generation has messed things up, it seems that young people need as much help as they can get - educational or otherwise.

In regards to the most popular tourist attractions in London costing the earth, to be honest, tourists should be a secondary priority to the children of this country. I couldn't afford to go to most of the big central London attractions until I started working and had my own money (which is still limited as I'm in school).

Surely it's much better for society in the long run to focus on keeping our young people going to museums, than suggesting places like the Horniman aren't worth saving as they don't attract a huge amount of tourists?

The Horniman isn't an 'attraction', it's an educational museum that is also a lot of fun & fascinating for children. Also,'discount' children/school rates at the more popular tourist spots are still far out of reach for working class inner-city kids - a tenner for some waxworks? My mum simply couldn't afford it.

Lou Baker said...

Ok Bridget - have your 'free museum'.

What would you prefer to cut instead? How about meals on wheels? It doesn't matter if a few pensioners starve does it?

How about schools? Lets cut that budget. All the kids are learning at the Horniman anyway.

Maybe the NHS should be cut. It doesn't matter if a few more people die on waiting lists does it - so long as you get your school trip.

The country is broke - it has no money. We spend more
on interest payments than on education. Do you not find that scandalous? Perhaps you can ponder that the next time you're browsing the collection of African art.

This argument goes on and on. We daren't touch the Horniman's funding because that affects you. Heaven forbid anyone even suggest students should pay their way because they have hissy fits, destroy buildings and try to kill policemen with fire extinguishers. We can't lose the Blackheath fireworks because someone will scream 'think of the kids' and how dare anyone suggest Crofton Park library close because new mums like going there on a Thursday.

I want our debt paid off and the government to spend our cash making sure core services - health, education, social care - are as good as they can possibly be.

Then, and only then, should we faff around with the extras.

I also wonder how many of the 'poor' you claim couldn't afford a Horniman entrance ticket have enough cash to pay for a mobile, Sky, lottery tickets, beer, junk food and fags?

Brockley Nick said...

@Lou - if it's the deficit you're so concerned about, then there are two ways to pay it off - cut spending or raise taxes. Stick another penny on the cost of a packet of fags and keep all the country's museums open to the public for free as an investment in the education and civility of the country.

Problem solved.

Anonymous said...

@Lou - there is a contradiction in what you say. You advocate spending more for education, but Museaums are a form of education.

or you are one of those people that think education is just reading a book.

If so let's close all schools and keep children at home so they can read faster.

There is so much waste in the government spending that before they cut museums they should clean the house and eventually raise a bit taxes as BN says.

Monkeyboy said...

Kepp going back to this thing about being broke. No, as Nick says, we can make a choice about how quickly we reduce the deficit and the balance of tax/spend.

The choice between grannies getting their meals on wheels and the arts is trite headline grabber. We have always had to make that choice, we do in in our personal lives and in the public realm. We could always have speant more on schools and less on parks. Or less on health and more on social care for the disabeled. Should you spend money on ballet lessons for your child because it brings joy, or a couple of hours of tuition to get an A+ over an A-

It's what grown ups do, make choices.

Lou Baker said...


I am concerned about the deficit. Anyone who has a loan or mortgage or credit card should realise that borrowing money to cover day to day running costs should be a last resort - not normal practice.

And I disagree the choice has to be between cutting spending and raising taxes. The choice should be more sensible spending and an increased tax-take. Getting people off benefits - where they're a drain
on our finances - and in to work where they contribute to the nation's wealth is key.

Mb said...

Isn't that the nub of the problem? Some economists would argue that the deficit reduction is too fast and that the economy will not reocover quickly enough to find work for those made unemployed by the cuts. The private sector has to grow at an unprecedented rate to fill the gap. If you're out of work, you need support and do not pay tax.

darryl said...

I see that paragon of accuracy, the News Shopper, couldn't help itself.

Brockley Nick said...

Ha! Well spotted Darryl. I suppose all publicity is good publicity, unless you are being roundly criticised for celebrating and rewarding homophobia...

I'd like to point out that the contents of this article are entirely true. The DCMS is planning to scrap its funding beyond 2015 and it's nice that they've reassured the Horniman and others that they'd only do so on the basis that another sponsor is found, but that's not quite a cast-iron guarantee of funding beyond the next four years.

It's good that the Horninman people I know are confident that the matter will be resolved happily, but I'll report that news when it's actually happened.

Brockley Nick said...

PS - this is the DCMS statement:

A DCMS spokesman said:"We aim to identify alternative sponsors for these museums by April 2011.

"There is no question of cutting these museums adrift without any financial support in the unlikely event that no new sponsorship arrangements can be found."

So that's the aim. But there's quite a lot of wiggle room here. In the second para, it doesn't say how much financial support they can expect to be guaranteed or from where. Given what's happened with Building Schools for the Future funding, I'll be happier when I read something more concrete.

darryl said...

I imagine it's quite a sensitive matter for the Horniman - I had someone get arsey with me on Twitter when I pointed to the original version of the story the other night.

But all this has shown how much regard the place is held in - which will hopefully hold it in good stead for the future, whatever the challenges that clearly lie ahead.

(I should actually go there some day...)

Brockley Nick said...

I saw the exchange you refer to. He didn't seem particularly narked, other than that it happened in the evening when he was off duty. I know one of the team well and she sent me their statement within seconds of the article going live, so I updated it within a few minutes.

Anonymous said...

I worked for the Horniman in the 80s, when they were ILEA funded - they didn't have any money then and they survived, they'll survive again

Unknown said...

They should make the 'Friend's of the Museum' doable through PayPal and online - make it easy easy, and rather that £10, make it £2.50 per month or £1 per month. The paper based system to too much bother.

max said...

Friend's of the museums and enemie's of punctuation.

Tamsin said...

;o) A hyphen in "do-able" would be nice too. But I am being unfairly picky.

A good idea, though, if the system does not take too much of a commission. Worth investigating.

Polly said...

The Horniman is an incredibly well-run museum (not to mention the fabulous gardens, which are about to undergo a redesign). It has done a brilliant job of identifying its key market (children, families, schools) and does so much work (free workshops etc) in addition to just keeping the museum going. It would be a great loss if they had to stop this work.

@Group51, thank you for raising the Friends of the Horniman - I have been intending to write something about this for a few days. All the posters who love and use the Horniman on a regular basis, I hope you are Friends, and if not, please DO join! It's a brilliant, tangible way of helping the museum - giving something back for all those hours you spend there entertaining your children etc - and the fundraising done by the Friends through membership and events (Christmas concert and market, Plant Sale Plus etc) will be more important than ever following this announcement.

December is a great time to join the Friends as you get 18 months' membership for a measly tenner, taking you round to the start of the next membership year in June 2012. You can download the application form here:

(sorry, don't know how to do links).

Next June the membership prices are going up, and they are introducing family membership. At that point they will also be introducing an online payment system I believe. Certainly you will be able to pay via standing order rather than having to send a cheque.

Tamsin said...

Since I've got the note of how to do links blu-tacked to my monitor at work herewith - hope I've got it right...

Polly said...

Thank you Tamsin! All you people who feel so strongly about what the Horniman has to offer, please click on Tamsin's link and join the Friends!

Jules Berne said...

In order to reduce costs, the Horniman Museum must close its doors during the week. How about Monday and Tuesday.
But it must NOT charge for permanent exhibitions including the aquarium otherwise it could lose its charitable status.

Polly said...

It has already started charging for the aquarium.

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