Birmingham looks to claw back cash with job changes - Museums Association

Birmingham looks to claw back cash with job changes

Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery (BMAG) is looking at 'alternative staffing arrangements' and possibly redundancies, according to Rita McLean, the head of museums and heritage services.
Patrick Steel
McLean told Museums Journal that because of a revenue budget deficit caused by increased rates charges, service costs and other overheads she needs to make £350,000 in savings.

Attempts have been made to increase BMAG's budget - which was £6,761,365 this year, up from £6,503,161 last year - through discussions with the council, but these have been unsuccessful.

As reported recently (Museums Journal May 2007, p5), another West Midlands hub member, Stoke-on-Trent City Council's museum service, has already axed three posts, with as many as 14 rumoured to be under threat because the council is facing a £20m budget deficit.

Stoke council would not comment on how the cuts would affect the museum service, saying only that 'service efficiencies are still at the planning stage'.

Mark Taylor, the director of the Museums Association, called for the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council to withdraw hub status if it found that a service had fallen below the capacity expected of a hub member.

'We cannot allow hub museums to cut their core services and have their embarrassment covered by Renaissance money,' he said.

McLean said BMAG's status as a Renaissance in the Regions phase one hub would not be affected by the savings because they will not affect the terms of the funding agreement.

Jon Finch, the chief executive of Museums, Libraries and Archives West Midlands, said that he was aware of the situation in Birmingham and 'if cuts actually become likely then we will have a frank discussion. There is value attached to being part of a hub. If services and governing bodies are not investing in hub museums then we need to take appropriate action because this goes against the ethos of Renaissance, which is to develop museum resources.'

Stephen Snoddy, the director of the New Art Gallery Walsall, which is not a hub museum, said: 'Local authority museums and services are under more pressure than ever.' But, he added: 'You have to put a case for asking for more money.'

Patrick Steel

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