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10 Jan 2017

Budget cuts to Birmingham Museums Trust could force closures

Proposed funding cuts by Birmingham City Council will significantly impact Birmingham’s position as a leading UK and European city for arts and culture and Birmingham Museums Trust is calling on the public to show their support ahead of the £500,000 proposed budget cuts to the city’s unique museums and heritage sites.

A number of options to manage the funding reduction are being considered, but the current proposed cuts could result in the closure of some of the city’s most important heritage and culture venues, including Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Thinktank Science Museum, Aston Hall, Blakesley Hall, Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, Sarehole Mill, Soho House and Weoley Castle.

Birmingham Museums Trust was formed in 2012 as an independent charity to manage the city’s museum collection for the people of Birmingham on behalf of the council. As the most visited civic collection in England the impact of these cuts on the region’s arts and culture scene would be significant and a public petition has been launched to gather support.

In recent years, Birmingham Museums has led the way in the city with a series of high profile projects and exhibitions such as the new permanent home for the world famous Staffordshire Hoard and the launch of a new Faith in Birmingham gallery. The Trust has also established national partnerships with the Arts Council Collection and the National History Museum, with BMAG set to welcome the famous Dippy the Dinosaur in 2018.

The £500,000 reduction in funding from April is in addition to a previously agreed £250,000
cut, creating a serious £750,000 shortfall. In the past 10 years, the fee paid to Birmingham Museums by the Council to care for the city’s priceless collection has been reduced from £7m to potentially £2.4m if the cuts go ahead. Birmingham Museums Trust has responded by growing its own self-generated income but these latest cuts may well force the closure of some sites.

As an educational charity, over 110,000 local school children have expanded their knowledge of art, history, science and technology through the Birmingham collections. The Trust has also engaged with local communities across the city, carers, faith groups and families with autistic children, meaning the loss of learning activities for these local schools, families and communities if the cuts go ahead.

Ellen McAdam, Director of Birmingham Museums Trust, said: “We understand that the city is in a difficult position, but with cuts as severe as these we have no option but to look at reductions in service across all of our sites.

“We want to ensure that Birmingham remains a leading city for arts and culture, and continues to thrive. Birmingham Museums Trust is one of the city’s success stories and we believe that it is vital that Birmingham’s great museums and collection should continue to receive the investment they need so that we can build on this achievement.

“In the face of continued funding reductions, our visitor numbers and earned income are growing strongly and we continue to deliver the Council’s museum service and care for the city’s great collection to a high standard. We hope the public support shown for Birmingham Museums Trust will raise awareness of how detrimental these cuts would be for the city.”

If you would like to show support for Birmingham Museums Trust and help reduce the proposed cut to the budget please sign and share the following petition tinyurl.com/SupportBhamMuseums. You can also take part in the Birmingham City Council consultation birmingham.gov.uk/brumbudget17 and email the council directly. #SupportBhamMuseums

Support from Culture Central - the new cultural development agency for Birmingham

BMT is an excellent example of a cultural organisation that has radically modernised and innovated its business model in recent years. The Trust has become significantly more entrepreneurial and pursued multiple income streams whilst also retaining the core principles of community engagement and caring for the city’s world class museum collection. It is exactly these principles that the Cultural Investment Enquiry was designed to extend further and to which Culture Central is seeking further support and commitment from the City Council.

It needs to be recognised that, as well as being a very strong museum service, BMT is also a business dealing with a radical shift in its investment model. It had a challenging but positive plan to address this in the long run but the unexpected short term announcement of a further £500k cut is a very significant blow. In line with Culture Central’s approach to the recently announced cuts to many of the major arts organisations, this latest cut to the museums service comes at very short notice, with very limited consultation and no mitigation plans.

Dorothy Wilson, Chair of Culture Central, comments:

In recent months there have been many positive announcements about the future development of Birmingham as a major international city with the physical development of the city centre really taking off. All of these plans recognise the critical role that great cultural and heritage attractions will play, both for visitors and local people, in making the city an economic and social success. At the same time the sector is being hit with a double blow- a resistance to accelerating new ways of working from the City Council and a much faster and sharper decline in budgets than had been forecast. The latest evidence of the significance of the creative sector in the city is that the overwhelming reason 38 million people visited Birmingham last year was for the combined cultural, heritage and arts offer. We need to create a stronger and wider understanding that investing in culture is directly related to the future success of the city.


For more information please contact:
Zoe Turton, PR Officer on 0121 348 8281 or press.office@birminghammuseums.org.uk
Notes to Editors

Birmingham Museums Trust

Birmingham Museums Trust is an independent charity that manages the city’s museum collection and venues on behalf of Birmingham City Council. It uses the collection of around 800,000 objects to provide a wide range of arts, cultural and historical experiences, events and activities that deliver accessible learning, creativity and enjoyment for citizens and visitors to the city. Most areas of the collection are designated as being of national importance, including the finest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art in the world. Attracting over 1 million visits a year, the Trust’s venues include Aston Hall, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Blakesley Hall, Museum Collections Centre, Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, Sarehole Mill, Soho House, Thinktank and Weoley Castle. For more information, head to www.birminghammuseums.org.uk.