Press Notice

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No. 64 of Session 2006-07
19 October 2007

The Funding of Science and
Discovery Centres

Science and discovery centres can contribute to effective science and education for young people and public engagement and should be eligible for Government support.

This is the conclusion of a report by the Science and Technology Select Committee, Science and Discovery Centres, published today, which acknowledges that many science centres are struggling financially. Of the 18 science centres that were given large capital grants by the Millennium Commission two have already closed: the Earth Centre in Doncaster and Big Idea in Ayrshire. Another, At-Bristol, has had to close two of its three attractions and it recently made 45 staff redundant.

The Committee believes that the remaining centres deserve continued support from the Government, local authorities, regional development agencies, the education sector, the charity sector and the business sector.

However, it wants to see research to determine how effective these centres are at promoting interest in science and encouraging young people to embark on a career in a science subject.

Until that is carried out the Government should not provide long-term financial support. Instead, it should make available limited, competitively awarded, short-term funding for those science centres that are at risk of closure.

If this independent research, which the Committee wants made a Government priority, does confirm that science centres make a positive contribution, then the Committee expects the Government to review its policy on long-term funding for science centres along similar lines to museums and galleries. However, it also recommends that science centres should continue to focus on securing funding in a range of ways including commercial activities.

Commenting on the report, the Chairman of the Committee Phil Willis said: “During this short inquiry, we have been impressed by the range of subjects tackled by science centres, their commitment to education and public engagement and the role they play in their local communities, despite the financial difficulties facing many of them.

“We hope that the Government will take a lead in continuing to develop further these close ties with everyone involved so the science centre sector can evolve and flourish.”

For media inquiries please call Laura Kibby on 020 7219 0718. For any other information please call Ana Ferreira, on 020 7219 2793. Previous press notices and publications are available on our website.

Notes to editors:

Membership of the Committee

Mr Phil Willis (Lib Dem, Harrogate and Knaresborough)(Chairman) Dr Brian Iddon (Lab, Bolton South East)
Adam Afriyie (Con, Windsor) Chris Mole (Lab, Ipswich)
Mrs Nadine Dorries Con (Mid Bedfordshire) Dr Bob Spink (Con, Castle Point)
Mr Robert Flello (Lab, Stoke-on-Trent South) Mr Graham Stringer (Lab, Manchester, Blackley)
Linda Gilroy (Lab/Co-op, Plymouth Sutton) Dr Desmond Turner (Lab, Brighton Kemptown)
Dr Evan Harris (Lib Dem, Oxford West & Abingdon)    

MS Word file: Download the committee press release as an MS Word file

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