Commission resists takeover bid

October 16, 1998

The Museums and Galleries Commission has rejected government proposals that it should merge with the Libraries and Information Commission to form a single body to represent the interests of the two sectors, writes Kam Patel.

The proposal, made in the wake of the comprehensive spending review by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, was justified on the grounds that the interests of museums, galleries and libraries are converging, especially as the use of electronic methods of delivering information increases.

The MGC, however, says that while it wants to build partnerships with other agencies, its wide consultation with the museums and galleries community on the proposal "found considerable opposition to a structural change of this kind which appears to add little value".

At a regional level the MGC says it prefers an evolutionary process of development that encourages cultural and other agencies to work together.

The LIC is looking at the proposal much more favourably. In its response it says there are policy objectives common to both organisations, including issues of access, education, inclusion and economic growth. The two also share common problems including fragmented, unsystematic links with other related organisations.

"In view of the obvious commonality between the two sectors, it is absolutely right to consider how they can work better together. A completely new joint body, with a remit encompassing the somewhat divergent current functions of the two bodies, could indeed turn these common issues into coherent strategies," it said. The LIC adds that the proposal is "very ambitious" and it will need to think through questions of timing and costs very carefully.

The DCMS is expected to announce its final decision on the merger soon.

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