His assistant minister, Montfort Tadier, has now begun informal discussions with Jersey Museum in a move which follows his success in securing more money for the culture budget, which will be based on 1% of total States’ expenditure from 2023.
Deputy Tadier has also called for a restoration of free student access to all Jersey Heritage sites, a policy withdrawn in 2010 following a financial restructuring of the organisation when it was asked to introduce new charges.
He said: ‘There has been a rebuilding of trust with the cultural organisations who now know that there is more realistic funding available. But we need to formalise arrangements and what I’m keen to do is to get a long-term service level agreement, or MOU, for what government expects and what Jersey Heritage can, in turn, expect from government. That will be around accessibility among other things.’
Although supporting the principle of free access to all sites, he said he acknowledged that it would be impractical financially to remove admission charges to all of them. The cost of free museum access alone is estimated to be £200,000 annually.
Jersey Heritage director Jon Carter said that admissions formed a huge part of Jersey Heritage’s self-generated income and that, while free access to museums was a plank of UK cultural policy, there had been no such tradition in Jersey.
‘In comparable places like the Isle of Man and Shetland, there is a mixed model with the main museum being free while other heritage sites charge. That is something that our new board might like to consider if the government were prepared to support it in the context of Deputy Tadier’s proposition to increase cultural funding to 1% of expenditure.’
He added that while UK policy had increased footfall at major attractions, it was clear that the policy did not, of itself, resolve inclusivity issues.
Latest figures produced by Statistics Jersey confirm a significant increase in participation in heritage over the past three years, while showing that the lowest rates remain among those in households with disposable incomes of less than £20,000.
Deputy Tadier said: ‘It seems fairly likely that if you don’t have a lot of money and you need to pay to go to heritage sites, or engage in whatever form of culture, you’re less likely to do it just because you don’t have the means. I want to make sure that everyone in Jersey is getting access to our wonderful sites, the physical not just the intangible culture.’
He added: ‘That I would want everyone to engage stands to reason but we shouldn’t think that others aren’t engaging with culture just because they are not going to museums. There are many different forms of cultural engagement and cross-pollination is really important.’