Derby slashes funding to museum trust

Simon Stephens, 05.12.2014
Derby Museums warn of 'severe consequences'
Derby City Council is cutting its funding to Derby Museum Trust by more than a quarter in 2015-16, it was announced this week.

Staff and trustees at the trust, which took over the management of three city museums (Pickford's House, Derby Museum and Art Gallery and the Silk Mill) in 2012, have reacted with dismay to the news, which is likely to lead to redundancies.

“We recognise that the council is faced with difficult decisions, but the depth and speed of these cuts means we can’t afford to provide the same level of activity,” said Peter Smith, the chairman of Derby Museums Trust.

"We urge Derby City Council to reconsider their decision so that Derby people can learn more about their heritage and the city can celebrate its story across the world.”

The Silk Mill reopened in 2013 and the trust has submitted a large Heritage Lottery Fund bid for its redevelopment. The Joseph Wright Institute opened at Derby Museum and Art Gallery this year.

Tony Butler, the executive director of Derby Museums, warned that the “consequences of such a swift and deep reduction in funding are severe”.

“When the trust took over in 2012 the Silk Mill was closed and visitor numbers to the museum and art gallery were in decline,” Butler said. “Since then we have taken a two-pronged approach to build a relevant and resilient organisation.

“Firstly we began to involve the community and young people in everything we do, from building exhibitions to caring for our collections. Secondly we took a more entrepreneurial approach, improving our catering and retail offer and encouraging corporate hires. Earned income is increasing but it will not fill the gap in funding immediately.”
Visitor numbers to the trust's sites are expected to reach more than 100,000 by 2014-15.

Derby Museums is an Arts Council England Major Partner Museum.


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MA Member
02.01.2015, 23:16
Derby Museums have been immune from Council cuts for a number of years to enable the organisation to establish itself. The Council waived a £100,000 cut prior to Trust status. Will it be able to do the same again, given the general economic climate?
MA Member
06.12.2014, 00:03
Is there any other reason for people to visit Derby apart from its museums? Sounds like Derby Council has decided the tourist economy is not important. (That's fine, we will spend our money in the Peak District and visit cities that value culture and heritage!)
Maurice Davies
MA Member
Partner, Museum Consultancy
05.12.2014, 11:11
This shows how important it is to pay careful attention to medium term funding levels and renegotiation and notice periods in agreements when local authority museums are going to trust. No trust should sign an agreement where funding cuts could be sudden - and renegotiations should be a couple of years in advance, not up to the wire. And I wonder who will be responsible for redundancy costs?.I would hope that falls on the council, not the trust.