London Student

Drastic restructuring proposed for UCL’s Bloomsbury Theatre and museums

UCL Culture has proposed a drastic restructuring of the institution, which would see a complete overhaul of how the university’s museums & the Bloomsbury Theatre are run.

The main objective is to incorporate the Museums & Collections, the Bloomsbury Theatre and the Public Engagement Unit under a more centralised management. The existing structure revolves around attaching core staff to each specific venue, but according to the directors’ proposal presented in February, this is no longer possible due to the growing size of UCL campus.

The proposed changes, for which a consultation has just closed, are intended to increase flexibility, capacity and integration. Despite this there has been widespread opposition from university staff and more than 250 letters of complaint were submitted to UCL Culture’s consultation page.

UCL’s Professor Cain, head of the Science and Technology Studies department, is one of the academics opposing these changes. In a blog post he highlighted the need for academics to be included in any process of restructuring, rather than to be left aside.

Cain told London Student that the response against these restructuring has been huge. Among them was the university Provost, Micheal Arthur, who, according to Cain, has been a “keen supporter of the museums”.

Cain described the response as “fantastic, but not unexpected” with support received from “UCL students and UCL staff, experts in the museum community around the world (including Egypt, Western Australia, US, and across Europe), enthusiasts, and people who described themselves as just members of the public.”

Contributing to the restructuring are the budget cuts that have taken place over the last three years as part of the ‘Professional Services’ budget strategy. UCL Culture has also lost some part of its annual income due to UCL’s engagement in the Qatari campus.

If implemented, the changes proposed will effectively leave aside lecturers, as the existing academic and research part of UCL Culture would be dissolved and transferred to Engagement or Cultural Programming function.

Cain said: “Far from being ‘broken’, the museums are thriving. I think the managers of this unit need to focus on supporting the museums in what they already do, rather than trying to re-engineer them to do goodness knows what.”

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Ilaria Grasso Macola