Archives Task Force Discussion Paper 5: Funding: opportunities and expectations

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The purpose of this paper is to explore how the Archives Task Force might approach funding issues in the archives domain. This is the first draft of what is – in January 2003 – a very speculative paper written to invite debate at the Task Force’s meeting on January 30th. It is expected that it will evolve during the lifetime of the Task Force and will come back to the Task Force each time it meets.

Funding will always be central to any consideration about the future of the archives domain in the UK. Even the most limited objectives involving any desire to make archives more accessible, to release the learning and social benefits of archives and secure the importance of records management will necessitate making resources available. And although there are always ways of using existing resources more efficiently it is likely that even a modest improvement in the utilisation of this resource for the benefit of society will require some additional investment.

It is obviously premature to be able to suggest precisely what the Task Force should recommend. To some extent what it recommends (and any cost attached to it) will determine – or at least suggest - where funding will be sought. But in general terms we may assume that at least some of the Task Force’s recommendations will have resource demands attached. The Task Force should identify potential funding streams for those recommendations.

The usual way of doing things is to make the recommendations, assess the cost and then either present the bill to the obvious funder or seek one or more funders. This paper is based on one important assumption – that there is no single obvious funder for the Task Force recommendations (whatever they may be) – and one innovation, the identification of potential funders for archives per se, in advance of the Task Force’s particular recommendations.

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Archives Task Force