Newcastle confirms £821,000 museums cut - Museums Association

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Newcastle confirms £821,000 museums cut

TWAM to lose 44% of subsidy over three years
Patrick Steel
Newcastle City Council's budget recommendations include cutting its subsidy to Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums (TWAM) by £821,000 (44%) over the next three years, affecting the Laing Art Gallery, Discovery Museum and Great North Museum.

This will see TWAM lose £266,000 in 2013/14 and £555,000 in 2015/16 from the council’s total contribution in 2012/13 of £1.9m.

Local authority contributions account for around 48% of TWAM’s funding, a total of £6.8m in 2011/12. Newcastle, where TWAM is based, has in the past contributed roughly twice as much as other councils.

The council is also recommending cutting its £150,000 subsidy to the Great North Museum, which it pays via Newcastle University and the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE). This is equal to about 12% of the museum’s income.

Within the council, a management review will see £517,000 cuts from culture, leisure, libraries and customer contact budgets, including £354,000 cuts to senior management.

And all direct subsidies to external cultural organisations will be cut by £1.5m over three years. The council has confirmed it will set up the Newcastle Culture Fund, guaranteeing £600,000 a year as a fund to which cultural organisations can apply.

According to the budget document, the fund was initiated to “encourage co-investment and financial contributions from people and organisations that have shown their support for Newcastle’s cultural and artistic development.

“The arts council has worked with us to develop this fund, and it is designed to sit alongside its essential funding for arts and culture”.

The fund will be drawn from a number of sources including investment income from the council’s loan note to Newcastle Airport; a share in growth in business rate income; savings generated from a “shared services approach”; and public health funding where arts and culture organisations can demonstrate benefits to health and wellbeing.

A spokeswoman for TWAM said: "Consultation on Newcastle City Council’s proposals has highlighted significant support for museums and the services they provide.

“The Great North Museum is one of those organisations which could be eligible to bid for financial support from the new cultural development fund for the cultural sector in the city.

“There are also ongoing discussions between TWAM, Newcastle City Council and Newcastle University about Great North Museum budgets for the new academic year.”

The recommendations are to be discussed by the council's cabinet on Monday 25 February, and will be voted on by full council on Wednesday 6 March.

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