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.”
A Birmingham City Council spokesperson, said: “The proposal is specifically to reduce the fee to Birmingham Museums Trust (BMT) to £2.4m. This is in addition to the Council meeting the rental costs at Thinktank and other costs including maintaining the heritage properties and insuring the collection etc. The proposed reduction in 2017-18 would mean that the museums budget would have reduced by 45% since BMT was established in 2012, when the budget was £7m.”
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.