Uncertain future for museums in Swansea

Nicola Sullivan, 08.12.2015
Tram Shed, the collections centre and heritage boats believed to be at risk of closure
Museums Journal has been told that three sites run by Swansea Museum could close, although the council has denied the claim. 
 
A source close to the museum, who didn’t want to be named, said that museum staff had been verbally informed about the possible closure of Tram Shed; the museum’s collections centre, which houses around 90% of its artefacts; and the pontoon, where three heritage boats are currently docked, including the Olga, built in 1909.
 
A spokesman from Swansea City Council said there were no proposals to close the sites, but austerity cuts meant that it was looking at different ways to run cultural services, including running Swansea Museum as a charitable trust, as previously reported by Museums Journal.
 
“We recognise that these are difficult times of austerity and we have got to look at finding different ways of running services if we are going to protect education and social care. Cultural services unfortunately is now an area that we now need to look at,” he said.
 
“We are not looking at the closure of any of the [museum] sites whatsoever. What we’re looking at is a different way of operating them in future.”
 
It is also understood the council is proposing a funding cut of £290,000 to the cultural services budget, which would see it fall by more than half from 2015-16 to 2018-19.

The council spokesman said that if a 50% cost reduction to the museum service was "realised" then it would result in savings of around £300,000.

A budget report due be considered by cabinet members on Thursday outlines proposed savings across the council of £89m over the next three years.

Museums Journal understands that the annual cultural services budget is £594,000 and that if the cuts are approved the museum’s workforce would have to be reduced by half. The council declined to comment on this point. 

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