Science and Discovery Centres, like the Science Museum in London and Techniquest in Cardif, have had a bit of a renaissance in recent years. The Millenium Commission gave big Lottery grants to 18 of them. But several have since fallen on hard times, with two closing and one (At-Bristol) recently made 45 staff redundant. Lord Sainsbury, the former Under Secretary of State for Science and Innovation, said of them that they:
were funded simply with capital by the Millennium Commission, without any revenue streams being provided and on some projections for future revenues which were extremely optimistic, bordering on fantasy, I think, in many cases. As a result of that, there have been a number which simply could not survive. There are others which are on the borderline. Because we think that it would be a huge waste of public money if these centres were allowed to disappear, we have taken action to try and provide them with funding on a transitional basis to get them to a properly funded basis; but it is hard work, while they find other sources of finance
Now the Select Committee on Science and Technology has come out in favour of long-term government support, if independent evidence can confirm that they confirm that they make a positive contribution to science education, the promotion of science-related careers and also public engagement.
Here’s hoping that they are succesful in convincing the government to change heart!
To find a local science centre, check out: http://www.ecsite-uk.net/