The trust has warned the cut could reduce public access to its sites, including Thinktank (pictured)

Birmingham Museums Trust faces £750,000 cut

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 20.12.2016
Trust warns 24% cut could substantially reduce public access
Birmingham Museums Trust is facing a larger-than-expected £750,000 cut to its council grant for 2017-18.

The trust had been preparing for a cut of £250,000 next year, with funding of £4.35m approved for 2017-18. However, a council budget consultation published earlier this month is proposing to reduce this amount by a further 11%, or £500,000.

The total cut would be a drop of 24% on the funding received by the trust in 2016-17.

The trust has launched a petition to reduce the size of the additional cut, and is asking the public to show its support.

A spokeswoman from the trust said she was unable to comment on what services would be affected until the level of funding was finalised. A blog published by the trust earlier this month warned that the cut could result in a substantial reduction in public access to its eight museum sites and its collections, as well as reduced capacity to deliver projects.

Ellen McAdam, the director of Birmingham Museums Trust, said: “We were expecting and planning for a reduction in funding and we hope to work with the council to minimise this.

“We recognise that this is a very difficult time for Birmingham City Council. However, Birmingham Museums Trust is one of the city’s success stories, with visitor numbers and earned income growing strongly.

“We believe that it is vital that Birmingham’s great museums and collection should continue to receive the investment they need so that we can build on this achievement. This is why we have launched a public petition to show support for Birmingham Museums Trust with the aim of reducing the proposed budget cuts.”

Birmingham City Council needs to find £50.6m in new savings next year, in addition to the £27.8m reductions it had already planned. It has had £590m cut from its budget since 2010.

The council’s leader John Clancy described the level of savings that need to be found as “unprecedented”. He said: “It is inevitable in an age of austerity that unpalatable decisions have to be taken about the services we can continue to pay for, and those areas where the council, reluctantly, must withdraw support. Every conceivable saving has been on the table.”

Previously, the council has delayed some cuts to give the trust time to restructure, but a spokesman said there were no plans this time to delay the proposed funding reduction or provide transitional support.

He said: “We have of been talking to the trust since its inception about the trajectory of council funding, and we did delay implementation of part of the last round of savings, to enable them to change, as well as supporting them to meet redundancy costs through a separate grant.”

Birmingham Museum Trust's spokeswoman said its main focus was to secure a reduction of the proposed cut. She said: “The public petition is being promoted online and by staff at our museum sites. We are also asking the public to consider other ways they can support us, including taking part in the Birmingham City Council consultation, emailing the council directly and donating to our annual appeal.”

The Museums Association's policy officer, Alistair Brown, said: “This is another blow to a museums service which has already suffered from substantial cuts.

"Like most museums around the country, Birmingham Museums Trust has been working hard to become more resilient and increase its earned income. However, as a public museums service, Birmingham Museums Trust still requires and deserves public support, and a cut of this size will be really damaging to its public offer.”

The council's budget consultation runs until 18 January 2017. 

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