Black Country Living Museum reports £600,000 losses - Museums Association

Black Country Living Museum reports £600,000 losses

Bad weather blamed for 16% fall in visitor attendance
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Rebecca Atkinson
The Black Country Living Museum (BCLM) in Dudley has reported losses of nearly £600,000 last year due to a large fall in visitor numbers.

The open-air industrial museum's accounts for the calendar year 2012 also show a trading loss of just over £285,000. The museum says this is a result of 40,000 fewer visitors than forecast – 249,000 compared to the expected 300,000 – and lower levels of spend in retail outlets.

In total, 2012 saw 16% fewer visitors than the previous year.

Andrew Lovett, director and chief executive of the BCLM, said: “The single biggest cause was the appalling weather we saw during that period last year. As an open-air destination, when the weather is not on our side it is a huge challenge.”

Adverse economic conditions and changes in people's leisure activity were also blamed for the losses in the museum’s annual report.

The BCLM, which receives 25% of its total visitors during the school holidays, has also lost annual local authority funding of £70,000.

Lovett says the museum has taken a number of steps in response to the losses, including cutting costs, introducing a membership scheme and expanding its events and hospitality offers.

It made 26 redundancies at the end of 2012, including four compulsory redundancies, which also reflect changes to the way it delivers its education programme,

BCLM’s forecast budget for 2013 is based on 250,000 visitors.

In his introduction to the 2012 accounts, John Hughes, chairman of the Black Country Living Museum Trust, said: “These results combined with the continued uncertainly affecting consumer confidence and the sad loss of local authority funding, has meant that we have needed to adopt a cautious approach to 2013; not least because the museum is an entirely self-funded charity.”

The BCLM was recently awarded £157,000 from Arts Council England to support new developments.

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