The work of the soon-to-be-abolished Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) is likely to be passed onto Arts Council England (ACE).
It was announced in July that the MLA would be wound down by March 2012, and, following discussions between DCMS, MLA and ACE, it is likely that many of the functions currently undertaken by the MLA will transfer to ACE. Provided an agreement can be reached by the ACE National Council on budgets, ACE will take on responsibility for the management and delivery of the Renaissance in the Regions programme, and museums and libraries development work, including museum accreditation and designation. It will also take responsibility for a number of statutory cultural property functions, including export licensing for cultural objects and the associated Export Reviewing Committee, the Government Indemnity Scheme and the Acceptance in Lieu scheme. Additional funding of around £46m a year from 2012/13 will be available to deliver this work, with an additional £1.3m going directly to the British Museum to run the Portable Antiquities Scheme. The detailed aspects of a transfer of responsibilities, including staffing and budgetary issues, the timings of the various transfers and the practical delivery of these functions are yet to be resolved, and the future of archives work currently undertaken by the MLA is still being considered. Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: “in a difficult financial climate it makes little sense to have different organisations working separately towards the same ends. That is why we are working to bring together responsibility for the arts, museums and libraries in a single organisation.” Roy Clare, CEO of the MLA, commented: “In the economic circumstances, MLA has been consistently supportive of the aim to direct funding to the front line… we will work to ensure a smooth transition of our expertise and know-how for the benefit of the public.”