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MLA to slash costs
29.10.07 | Katherine Rushton
The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council partnership has pledged to slash its operating costs by more than 20% by tackling regional duplication and downsizing its London headquarters. The move comes in line with a tight financial settlement from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport that will "inflation-proof" its flagship museums project, Renaissance.
The advocacy organisation—which comprises the MLA Council in London and nine smaller, regional MLA agencies around England—will receive £62.336m in 2008/09 rising to £62.365m in 2010/11, it was announced today. More than three quarters of that funding will be directed to the Renaissance
programme, rising with inflation to nearly £49m at the end of the three year period.
The MLA said today it will reduce its London presence and move into smaller offices by summer 2008, and will move more of its functions to the regions. It will also "tackle regional duplication". "Staff reductions will be unavoidable, but the MLA hopes that a number of these will be achieved over time through normal turnover," a spokesman said.
The changes come in line with a new strategy for the MLA, which will see the regional agencies become more active and eventually "unified" with the central MLA Council. "The emphasis will be on business to business activity and delivery in the regions, with the regional agencies becoming more closely involved in decision-making," a spokesman said.
Chief executive Roy Clare said the move would prime the MLA partnership to become "stronger and better than ever. I look forward to the challenge and to working with staff, who will wish to see the new project succeed well. We will move as efficiently and rapidly as possible. The objectives for improving effectiveness and efficiency are tough; there is no time to lose and we must rapidly build up and reinforce our reputation for delivery on behalf of the sector we represent."
Chairman Mark Wood added: "The MLA partnership will now step up the effectiveness of its services and proactively assist museums, galleries, libraries and archives to benefit people of all ages and backgrounds. We will engage with local government and other bodies and collaborate across the arts and cultural sectors to add value and promote excellence."
Last week an influential member of one of the MLA project boards claimed that it was in the "last chance saloon". Desmond Clarke, a member of the Blueprint for Excellence board, said that if the MLA did not demonstrate that it had a purpose and could deliver results within the next year, it faced being wound up. He said: "There's a very real chance that if the MLA does not deliver in the next 12 months, it will go. It will disappear. It is a very real risk and I think that is something that a number of members of the MLA board will admit privately. They're in the last chance saloon."