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  • Writer's pictureBernard Donoghue

Bernard Donoghue asks UK’s political parties to halt a "cultural recession"

In our latest opinion column from guest writers, the Director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) Bernard Donoghue sets out — in 250 words — his organisation’s demands of the UK’s political parties ahead of the 2024 general election.


“On 18 March 2024, we published our members’ visitor figures for 2023; they always get a lot of media coverage as they are a barometer of the strength and recovery of UK tourism.

On average they were 19% higher than in 2022 but are still 11% lower than pre-pandemic levels. My media interviews gave me an opportunity to highlight our asks of all political parties.

Photograph of a covered courtyard at the British Museum
The British Museum was named the most visited attraction in the UK in 2023

ALVA isn’t a charity, and we don’t receive public funding, so we are more free than our members in identifying policy failures and calling for action. Our asks are based on three principles:

  • to strengthen and sustain the visitor economy and to make the UK more internationally competitive and attractive

  • to protect and strengthen the arts, culture and heritage sectors, making them, their collections and work as accessible as possible

  • to ensure that nature and the environment are protected and healthy, support biodiversity, and reduce our impact on the climate

And in pursuing these things, we ask parties ensure that those who work in our sector, in whatever role, paid or volunteer, are respected for who they are, adequately rewarded, supported with training, and valued for their role in creating the backdrops for people's happiest memories.

Having won, with others, permanent tax relief for museums, orchestras and theatres in the March 2024 Budget, our immediate concern now is the collapse of the local authority funding model and its implications for civic collections, the sustainability of organisations, and access to arts and culture. We cannot allow a cultural recession to occur.”

Bernard Donoghue has been Director of ALVA since September 2011. ALVA’s members are over 300 of the UK's most popular and important museums, galleries, palaces, castles,

cathedrals, zoos, historic houses, heritage sites, gardens and leisure attractions.

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