Derby Council proposes drastic cuts to museums funding

Jonathan Knott, 22.12.2015
Supporters urged to respond to budget consultation
Derby City Council is consulting on budget plans that would remove the vast majority of local authority funding from the city's museums by 2018-19.

“The consequence of such action would likely result in closures of the city’s museums,” said a statement from Derby Museums.

In the council’s budget consultation, announced at the beginning of December, Derby Museums faces a cut of £170,000 in 2016-17, with no further reductions in 2017-18 but a reduction of £684,000 in 2018-19, representing the removal of all funding except what is needed to preserve the buildings and collections.

Derby Museums is an independent trust that runs Derby Museum and Art Gallery, Pickford’s House museum and Derby Silk Mill, which recently received £9.4m earmarked funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for redevelopment. Derby Museums is part of Derby and Nottingham Museums Consortium, which will receive £2.56m from Arts Council England between 2015-2018 as a Major Partner Museum.

Tony Butler, the executive director of Derby Museums, told Museums Journal that he understood the pressure the council was under to produce savings while maintaining statutory services. “They are not picking on museums, it’s one of a range of areas that they are having to look at. We’ll spend the next couple of years sitting down with potential funders and talking about a way forward,” Butler said.

He added: “There is a real danger to civic museums, and if we don’t take positive action we could be sleepwalking into seeing their demise. But there is a long way to go until 2018-19 and I hope that cool heads will prevail.”

Derby Museums is urging supporters to respond to the council’s online consultation.

In a statement on the council website, Ranjit Banwait, the leader of Derby City Council said: “Government cuts mean we have to find £19m of savings to balance our budget next year and £45m over the next three years.” He described the process as “incredibly difficult”.

The UK government recently announced a new local finance settlement that will see councils' core spending power remain flat over the next four years.

The Local Government Association described the settlement as an “important step” towards financial certainty but added that the settlement represented a 6.7% real terms spending reduction over four years and that there were still significant challenges ahead for councils.

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