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Leaving the nest

January 12, 2015

Hampshire Cultural Trust is born!  It came to life in November 2014 out of the Hampshire County Council’s Arts & Museums Service.  Still majority funded by local authority councils, but with a commitment of reducing core grants over the next 4 years from the public sector.

Hampshire Cultural Trust 2014-

Hampshire Cultural Trust 2014-

The creation of a Charitable Trust has been taken by other museum and art organisations over the years.  The Black Country Museum became a Trust in 1985¹, when it was receiving a council grant of £50,000 per annum (thats over £155,000 in todays money), now it receives £65,000 from Dudley Metropolitan Borough.  The Bowes Museum in the north east became a Trust in 2000¹ when Durham County Council funded it annually to the tune of £468,000 (worth £719,000 today), in 2012 the County contributed £457,000.  In both cases these museums were able to increase income from other sources including, the Arts Council, donations and commercial sources.

The Natural History gallery at the Horniman

The Natural History Gallery at the Horniman

However becoming a charity has not been the only option for local authority run museums.  Both the Geffrye and Horniman Museums in London were run by local authorities until 1989 when they received a combined grant of £1,583,000 per annum¹ (thats £3.7 million today).  They were subsequently transferred over to central government and sponsored by the Department of Culture Media and Sport, in effect becoming mini national museums, and treated in the same way as the British Museum or the National Gallery.  In 2013 they received combined grants of  £5.8 million from central government.  In both cases they are thriving, and the need to diversify is not as pressing as for their charitable museum colleagues.

In a later posting I will look at whether this matters and what are the consequences of leaving the public sector for museums.

¹Babbidge, Adrian. Moving to Museum Trusts: Learning from Experience. London. MLA. 2006
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From → Funding, Trusts

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