Shetland Museum (c) Clemensfranz

Shetland Museum may close to public

Patrick Steel, 24.10.2012
Museum in talks over 35% budget cut proposal
Officials from Shetland Islands Council told trustees of the Shetland Amenity Trust (SAT) at a meeting last week that they would be recommending cuts of 35% to the budget of the Shetland Museum and Archive over the next three years.

In an open letter published in the Shetland Times, SAT’s chairman Brian Gregson said that, if implemented, the cuts would result in “at least 20 staff being made redundant and render it impossible to provide any workable or acceptable level of museum and archive services in Shetland”.

Gregson pointed to the 25-year service-level agreement between SAT and the council, which states that the council should provide the necessary revenue resources to meet the delivery of the museum and archives services. The agreement was a pre-condition of a £5.1m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant for Shetland Museum and Archives.

"Notwithstanding this," he wrote, "since the first full year of operation the museum and archives services have been subjected to cuts each year.

"The total level of cuts, since opening, amount to 27% in real terms and the current year’s budget is now £1.035m… a further 35% cut over the next three years… would reduce the total funding to £681,000."

A spokeswoman for Shetland Islands Council said: "Shetland Islands Council agreed a medium-term financial plan in September to achieve a balanced budget within five years.

"Service managers are now preparing service proposals for councillors to consider later in the year.

"Where these proposals involve grants or service agreements with third parties, officers are holding discussions with the third-party partners concerned to investigate where these savings can be made, where more effective service delivery can be achieved, and where services can be reduced or changed.

"At this stage SAT has been asked for its feedback on these proposals."

A spokeswoman for the HLF declined to comment, but Museums Journal understands that it is in dialogue with the museum over its future.


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26.10.2012, 17:14
So it's not the case that local authorities south of the border are being hammered too? Let's concentrate on finding survival strategies for gems like Shetland or Stoke or Coventry or Bradford.
Jonathan Gammond
MA Member
24.10.2012, 20:17
Scottish local authorities and Scottish museums are taking cuts so Alec Salmond and Holyrood can splash the cash offering free bribes, sorry, goodies to voters (prescriptions, care for the elderly, university education etc etc) that everyone south of the border has to pay for. You can't have your cake and eat it applies universally, not just in England.
24.10.2012, 17:36
I am deeply shocked to think that such an excellent, comparatively new, well designed and purpose built museum is under such serious threat. As well as a wonderful resource for the people of Shetland, it must surely be a key attraction for tourists. I sincerely hope that the authorities will reconsider their position, and that the HLF contribution they received will make them realise that in the longer term their financial position may not be improved by such drastic action.
24.10.2012, 17:34
Another example of how being in a trust is not a escape from the current economic problems. This is just the start of serious slashing by cottish ocal authorities - there will be more!