The SeaCity Museum in Southampton. The council is restructuring the city's arts and heritage team

Cuts put local authority culture provision under pressure

Geraldine Kendall, 21.08.2013
Falconer Museum faces closure threat as cuts bite across UK
The Friends of Falconer Museum group is seeking clarity from Moray Council in Scotland over the future of the Falconer Museum.

Earlier this year the council, which is facing budget cuts of £30m, announced it would entirely cease its funding for arts and culture from April 2014 and would transfer responsibility for the two museums it runs to community groups.

But members of the group, which is looking to take over the Falconer Museum, say the council is failing to provide the information they need to put a business plan together to save the facility.

The Falconer Museum is facing a six-month period of closure from October and has already lost one full-time and one part-time staff post.

Campaigners are concerned that the closure will become permanent if transition arrangements are not put in place in time.

Maidstone Museum

In Kent, Maidstone Museum is to be restructured to become self-financing, with the abolition of at least one senior post.

Maidstone Borough Council said it would retain management control of the museum, but would look to attract more money from grant-making trusts and other funding streams.

The council has ceased to fund culture as a core activity and recently outlined its strategy to make its museums more commercial.

Usk Rural Life Museum

Monmouthshire council is to to sell Usk Rural Life Museum and part of its adjoining car park to the trust that has run the site since 2002.

The council is facing a funding gap of £14m over the next four years. Trustees say the sale will enable them to safeguard the agricultural museum’s future, modernise the building and facilities and diversify funding streams.

The purchase of the volunteer-run museum is being financed largely by contributions from local donors.

In a report on its website, the council confirmed the museum would be funded, run and developed by the trustees, describing it as “the first crowdfunded museum in Wales”.

Trustees now plan to develop a new visitor centre at the site.

Southampton City Council

In Hampshire, concerns have been raised about the future of collections held by Southampton City Council.

The council, which had its budget for 2013/14 cut by £16m, is restructuring its arts and heritage team and reducing education, curatorial and conservation staffing.

It anticipates the move will result in a “significant reduction in ability to respond to public enquiries about collections”.

The council also plans to replace face-to-face and telephone services for leisure and culture with a web-based visitor service.

Recent figures compiled by the Department for Culture and Local Government show local authorities in England have cut culture spend by 4.2% since 2012/13.

Museum of Electricity

Meanwhile a campaign is underway to save the Museum of Electricity in Christchurch, Bournemouth, after it was closed indefinitely in December 2012 with the loss of nine posts.

The museum is located in an Edwardian power station and currently owned by the utilities company Scottish Southern Electric. The company says it is unable to afford the redevelopment works necessary to boost access to the site.

The Mission Ignition group, which is spearheading the campaign, hopes to redevelop the museum as a science and engineering discovery centre.

Update
28.08.2013

We incorrectly reported that Maidstone Council would relinquish direct management control of its museums. The council has confirmed that it will retain management control of its museums.


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