RESCUE Says: Testing Rescue Says

[category rescue-says]

The current economic situation in the UK is difficult and, according to the Government, is likely to remain so for some considerable time. The reasons behind this situation are of course numerous and complicated, principally it seems with the blame coalescing around a combination of Brexit, the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, and the ongoing war in Ukraine. There are no doubt other more subtle contributors as well, creating a perfect storm of economic turmoil.

Whatever the causes, the overriding narrative regarding the current situation has largely focussed on the effects on the individual or small household: the rising cost of food, spiralling mortgage fees, the price of energy and fuel, proliferation of foodbanks, wages pressure and industrial action. The list goes on. Discussions in and around the profession recently have suggested that this crisis isn’t a heritage issue, but like all things, the historic environment is intertwined with the fabric of our society in an inextricable way, so when economic pressures start to bite there are clear and inevitable impacts on heritage. But how do we record these? And what should we do about it?

The first thing to do when addressing any problem is to gather evidence. So for a couple of examples:

A southern county is reporting that pressure on local authority budgets has resulted in the recent total withdrawal of museums’ acquisition funds. You might grudgingly conclude that acquiring Treasure items offered for institutional acquisition following valuation would be a costly business that maybe ought to be paused in straightened circumstances, but apart from a few headline cases Treasure acquisition is generally not a prohibitively expensive business and many finds can be acquired for public benefit for a few hundred pounds. Rescue has received information indicating that, following the withdrawal of funding, at least one object valued at under £50 has had to be returned to its finder and has disappeared into the open market.

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