Consortium established to save Wedgwood collection - Museums Association

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Consortium established to save Wedgwood collection

Organisations meet Ed Vaizey to discuss how collections can be made accessible to the public
Patrick Steel
A consortium comprising the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Arts Council England, Art Fund, and Victoria and Albert Museum has come together in a bid to save the Wedgwood collections.

As Museums Journal went to press, the attorney general was deliberating whether the Wedgwood Museum would be allowed to appeal a high court judgment that the collections could be sold to fund a £134m pensions deficit.

If the appeal is not granted, the collections are at risk of being broken up and sold.
The consortium met Tristram Hunt, the MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, and culture minister Ed Vaizey at the DCMS at the end of last year to discuss how best to keep the collections as intact and accessible to the public as possible.

Museums Journal understands that a working group made up of members of the consortium has explored several options. It is not clear, however, how the group would fund a bid to save the collection, which is estimated to be worth about £18m.

The HLF, having awarded the Wedgwood Museum a grant of £5.8m in July 2005, is legally a creditor of the Wedgwood Museum Trust, and would therefore be entitled to recoup this amount in the event of a sale.

But an HLF spokeswoman said the organisation would “not necessarily” choose to go down this route.

A spokeswoman for the Art Fund said: “There have obviously been discussions about how we might raise money, but there is no figure for the collection at the moment, so we cannot go into the specifics at this stage.”

Hunt stressed that regardless of where the funding came from in the event of a sale, the collections should remain in Stoke-on-Trent. However, they would be held under a new management structure.

“The collections are of international significance,” he added. “There has to be a national solution to a regional issue. [Funders] have to have faith in where the money is going.

“There has to be a new entity and it has to be more watertight.”

Hunt has sponsored an Early Day Motion calling for the government to ensure the Wedgwood collections remain on open display for the people of Britain and for the urgent amendment of the legislation governing the Pension Protection Fund. The motion has received cross-party support.

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