Petition against Derby cuts raises more than 6,600 signatures

Shropshire's Museum Resource Centre also at risk due to cuts
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Geraldine Kendall Adams
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Significant cuts to local government grants are continuing to hit local authority-funded museums across the UK.

Derby Museums, which is facing a proposed cut of 26% to its £1.2m council grant in 2015-16, handed in a petition of 6,649 signatures opposing the cut to the council yesterday.

The petition is sufficient to trigger a council debate on the proposal, which is expected to take place at the end of January. The trust’s director Tony Butler said he hoped the public’s support would be taken into account.

“We appreciate the difficult circumstances that the council is operating under but it’s gratifying to see the public support and their showing their love for their local museums,” said Butler.

The trust has staged a high-profile campaign since the proposed cut was announced last month to encourage museum-goers to show their support for the city’s museums, recording the results on its Tumblr account.

Meanwhile the Museum Resource Centre in Ludlow, Shropshire, is under threat after Shropshire Council announced plans to make the centre’s three permanent staff redundant and replace them with one part-time post.

The Friends of Ludlow Museum has released a statement warning that the centre would not be able to function without staffing by “professional and appropriately qualified personnel”, and that the move would effectively force it to close to the public and mothball the 150,000 objects it holds.

The centre provides storage and loan facilities for the county’s collections, and currently attracts between 10,000 and 20,000 visitors a year.

“Shropshire Council has made no attempt to protect the money for these three posts and sees redundancy with effective closure as the easy option,” said Lottie James, chairwoman of the Friends group.

In Scotland, the Highland Council has voted to go ahead with a 5% cut to its grants for culture in 2015-16, followed by a 45% cut in 2016-17.

The third-party grants support 19 independent museums across the Highlands, and the Highland Museums Forum has warned that some may be at risk of closure as a result.

In Wales, the Friends of Newport Museum and Art Gallery will submit a petition of more than 2,000 signatures to the city council this week opposing a plan that would see the museum’s city centre building close with the loss of 13 full-time posts.

Public access to the museum's collections would be limited to pop-ups and temporary exhibitions under the council's proposal. The local authority needs to find £10m savings next year and says it is facing "severe financial pressure".

Finally, Birmingham City Council is due to decide next month on whether to go ahead with its proposed 15% cut to Birmingham Museums Trust. A petition opposing the cuts attracted more than 7,200 signatures and has been submitted to the council.

The Museums Association submitted a response this week to the council’s public consultation expressing concern over the cut.

Are there any more examples of museum cuts that you’d like us to highlight? Email journal@museumsassociation.org in confidence or tweet us under the hashtag #museumcuts.



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