Museum reform may weaken the museums in Lolland-Falster

By Michael Fagerlund, chairman of the board of Museum Lolland-Falster, and museum director Ulla Schaltz.

For years there has been a great desire to create a transparent distribution of state subsidies to the state-recognised Danish museums. It is therefore positive that there is now a report that the museums can relate to. It is positive that plans are being made for a more flexible and fair subsidy system, where new museums can be recognized by the state.

But there is much that worries us at Museum Lolland-Falster.

The report assumes that a very large part of the total state subsidy is allocated on the basis of own earnings and visitor numbers and is calculated annually. This leads to a great deal of uncertainty in budgeting, and it will pose a significant problem, as a great many museum tasks are planned over a number of years.

When we look at the subsidy models of the reform, Museum Lolland-Falster will lose state subsidies in two out of three models; in one of them up to 42 percent. It is very severe, especially because the state subsidy is the basic subsidy together with the municipal subsidies. The fixed government subsidy thus means a lot for how high the other earnings can be. It is a solid foundation for being able to develop fund projects, which can contribute to a higher turnover and a greater number of visitors.

We are concerned that the models do not take into account either mergers or previous county grants. The old Storstrøms County gave a solid county grant to the museums and thereby supported the cultural heritage. Guldborgsund and Lolland municipalities supported a merger of the three state-recognised cultural history museums on Lolland and Falster, so that the islands got a strong museum which, among other things, could promote archeology in connection with the construction of the permanent connection to Germany. It may seem that we as a region are now being punished for previous support for strengthened museum operations and forward-looking museum policy.

To that extent, we are missing parameters in the models for state subsidies that reflect the museums' legally mandated tasks, which are the archaeological responsibility and the care of the museum's collections.

Museum Lolland-Falster has the archaeological responsibility on Lolland-Falster, which in recent years has had many large infrastructure projects, not least the tunnel to Germany and a large green gas pipeline that will supply the islands' sugar factories. The area of ​​archaeological responsibility is a national and statutory task which requires basic archaeological staffing, and it should be financed from the state grant, which the models do not suggest will happen.

Museum Lolland-Falster has a large and award-winning collection, which, not least through the excavations of recent years, has been supplied with a lot of significant, new material and unique objects, but the museum is not remunerated with government subsidies to look after its statutory museum collection, which is the museum's backbone. We are building a new and state-of-the-art magazine for the museum's more than 300.000 objects in order to be able to store the collection responsibly and correctly, but the museum reform may have an impact on the magazine project and the safeguarding of Lolland-Falster's cultural heritage. With a decrease in the state subsidy, the museum risks being unable to finance the construction

Lolland-Falster is an area of ​​the country with many vulnerable children, young people, families and the elderly. In recent years, the museum has developed a number of offers for these target groups. It is important educational work that the museum would very much like to continue in the future. Working with vulnerable groups takes time and often takes place in small groups. This requires stable financing through, among other things, the state subsidy.

Museum Lolland-Falster received DKK 2022 million in state subsidies in 6,7, corresponding to 1,60 percent of the total state subsidy for museums in 2022, which was DKK 413 million in total. The museum's area of ​​responsibility in Lolland-Falster covers 4,2 percent of Denmark's total area and has approximately 100.000 inhabitants, corresponding to just over 1,7% of Denmark's total population. This means that the museum's current grant corresponds very well to a national average if you use area and population.

We see no problem in a state subsidy model that also weighs visitor numbers and own earnings in the calculation of state subsidies. It can both be healthy and give us an incentive to perform even better. Here, however, it is important to remember that the museums do not have the same framework conditions or opportunities as a result of geography, demographics and tourism patterns. Therefore, it is our wish that the following four elements be added to the model for awarding state subsidies:

– work with vulnerable groups

– archaeological area of ​​responsibility

– collection management

- area and population

It is our hope and expectation that the museum reform and a new state subsidy model support that there are good museum offers in Lolland-Falster in the future as well.

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