Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Portable Antiquities Scheme: "to Preserve and Invest"?

In January I noted the possible funding cuts for the UK's Portable Antiquities Scheme. At the time Current Archaeology reported:
Funding comes from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport via the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA). The MLA’s funding is being reduced by more than 25%, and in consequence PAS funding has been frozen at the £1.3 million level, an effective cut allowing for inflation (it needs £1.49 million to maintain current activity).
A petition to Number 10 that attracted just over 2000 "signatures" called for:
... the Prime Minister to Preserve and Invest in the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
A response has been posted today:

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is widely regarded as a success in encouraging people to voluntarily report finds of archaeological interest. In the 10 years since its inception the Portable Antiquities Scheme has recorded more than 317,000 archaeological finds on its online database (, the largest online database of its kind anywhere in the world.

The Government is aware that a number of concerns have arisen in connection with the future funding of the scheme. The PAS is funded by the Museums Libraries and Archive Council, therefore decisions about the scheme's future funding will be taken by them. The Museums Libraries and Archive Council have confirmed that they will maintain funding for Portable Antiquities Scheme in the next financial year (£1.3 million).

The Museums Libraries and Archives Council recognises that the Portable Antiquities Scheme is of national importance. The Government shares the Museums Libraries and Archive Council's commitment to the scheme. The British Museum and the Museums Libraries and Archive Council are fully committed to the continued success of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and are working together with other stakeholders to ensure that this is achieved.

So funding for PAS will be "maintained", i.e. frozen, at £1.3 million. Indeed, the response confirms an effective cut.

How does this "Preserve and Invest" in the Portable Antiquities Scheme?


David Gill said...

See the transcript of the House of Commons debate on March 5, 2008.

Peter Twinn said...

When it all comes down to the bottom line David we're seeing the PAS being straight-jacketed into a new cell called Renaissance. This whole process was manipulated by both the Minister Margaret Hodge and implemented by her Rottweiler Rear Admiral Claire. When you go back to the actual point where what funding was going to be needed for the future the PAS was convieniently overlooked (forgotten my arse). What shook the Minister and the head of the MLA was the bite on the backside they both got when they tried to play god with a much loved and successful Scheme. The current Review, which I took part in may just be a paper exercise (we'll see) to placate those involved, but I think not. People don't like change, but they like it less when it is foisted upon them from people who know little or nothing about the end users of this successful enterprise!

Peter Twinn

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