Renaissance in the Museums Continues; Culture Secretary Announces Three Years' More Funding

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Byline: By David Whetstone Arts & Entertainment Editor

MUSEUM bosses in the North-East yesterday got what they had vigorously campaigned for - continued Government support for the Renaissance in the Regions programme.

Since it began in 2002, the programme has enabled millions of pounds worth of improvements to be spent on regional museums, boosting attendance figures dramatically.

Culture Secretary James Purnell announced a national index-linked settlement worth pounds 45m this year and rising to pounds 48.7m in 2010/11.

He said: "Our regional museums and galleries are one of our greatest assets as a nation - a lively and stimulating resource for schools, a great place for family visits or just somewhere for people to go to nourish their imagination and help them find their place in history.

"That's why the Government started the Renaissance programme, which gave regional museums sustained Exchequer support for the first time ever, and that's why we have made it a priority for the next three years, too."

The settlement announced yesterday means regional museums will have received pounds 300m between 2002 and 2010/11.

Renaissance money has been distributed to nine regional museum groupings, or hubs, whose development as centres of excellence is designed to benefit all the museums in the area. In the North-East, the hub comprises Tyne & Wear Museums, as hub leader, along with the North of England Open Air Museum at Beamish, the Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle and Hartlepool Museums.

Alec Coles, director of Tyne & Wear Museums, has led the campaign for the continuation of Renaissance in the Regions funding, which has had a dramatic impact in the North-East. …

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