Friday 7 September 2018

Friday Retrospect: Fundraising for the FLO

Bloomsbury HQ
Some weeks ago, I published a text on the 2018 Review of the PAS, anticipating that the document would provokequite a lively discssion... but it turns out that nobody else thought it was worth commenting on. My text can be found here. It is about this anonymous document: 'Review of the Portable Antiquities Scheme Partnership Model', published online about 28th March 2018 without much of a fanfare. The text details how the PAS is set up, how it is funded and some structural problems in its organization (probably the ones Roger Bland foresaw before he resigned) but fails to address the issue of the degree of mitigation of information loss through Collection-Driven Exploitation of the archaeological record continuing under this 'partnership'.

The review shows a PAS that has lost its sense of direction and stresses the current ad hoc nature of PAS management of people and programmes, which leave much room for improvement There are fundamental problems with the sustainable funding of the Scheme, ('the original funding arrangements were not designed to serve the Scheme for as long as they have').
To be sustainable beyond the immediate short term (i.e. beyond the current funding arrangements to March 2019), PAS now needs to directly address a number of challenges that [it] has previously been able to navigate around. [...] given the core and partnership funding constraints faced by the Scheme, most consultees feel that PAS is now at the point where greater operational flexibility is necessary to maintain the principle of national coverage.
I really was expecting some wider-ranging discussion of the suggestions made in the Review's Table 4.1 (p. 21) representing some of the opportunities to raise funding 'over the next five years' (p 20). Here's my summary:
Respondents highlighted the need for additional resources - it was suggested that the BM could use its expertise and influence to generate income by allowing the PAS to become a separate trust' (p. 20). The first suggestion on financing the Scheme is going to be a controversial one: 'introduce a 'Treasure tax' or levy to fund PAS, a % of all Treasure finds used to fund PAS' (!!) and 'make metal detectoring (sic) licensed through payment of a yearly fee' with this given as a funding solution - 'mandatory licensing of detectorists (potentially administered through PAS)' - they see this as an adaptation of 'mudlark permits'. Another way they see of raising funds is 'consider how skills of FLOs could be developed to generate income' and 'char[g]ing for developing high resolution imaging of finds [brought to the Scheme by finders]' and the PAS 'producing specialist finds reports for commercial units, developers etc, provision of training courses' and 'schools and HE workshops' and... 'charging [finders?] for expert work, attendance at rallies etc.'.
So far archaeologists, UK 'metal detectorists' on their forums and the NCMD have all been relatively silent on these issues. Why?

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