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Steady state? AIM’s latest survey findings
In September 2023 AIM conducted a survey on how the sector is managing in the midst of challenges including continued high energy bills, lingering effects on audience numbers following the Covid-19 pandemic, and an ever more-challenging picture for public funding.
Over 250 respondents answered, and this is what you told us:
- For 70% of museums visitor numbers during the summer months were at, or better than, projections and for 64% the same was true of summer income.
- 72% of museums feel able to cope with cost pressures, although for 44% this is only in the short term.
- 64% reported they had not had to scale down planned activity this year.
- Large museums appear to be particularly vulnerable and were the least likely to report they can absorb costs, with only half reporting this (compared to 70% of small museums and 83% of medium).
- Strongest support needs echo those pre-pandemic: capital funding for maintenance (44%) and transformation projects (39%).
- There is clear demand for MEND, or nation equivalent funds, to be continued.
While the findings give some reason for cautious optimism, they also suggest a split sector: some museums are enjoying strong visitor numbers and income, can manage the ongoing impacts of the cost-of-living crisis and energy bills, and have limited support needs – while others continue to struggle, although fewer to the drastic point of fearing insolvency. This prompts us to consider whether we have arrived at a juncture where certain museums have successfully rebounded from the pandemic’s impact, while others should be regarded as permanently altered in terms of their visitor numbers, income patterns, or their pre-2020 trajectory.