Although the Council is now proposing a 12 week consultancy the prospect for the Museum of Lancashire, Fleetwood Museum, Queen Street Mill in Burnley, Helmshore Mills Textile Museum and Judges’ Lodgings Museum, looks bleak with complete closure proposals, while they have stipulated that five other museums under the authority will have to be completely self supporting through entry fees. This comes hot on the heals of major funding announcements from other County Councils. Norfolk County Council recently revealed that they are modelling for 25% cuts with the aim of saving £652,000 in the Museum sector for 2018-19.
Hugo Johnsen, Director of Heritage Insurers Castleacre, says ‘In the light of this announcement it is difficult for council held museums to be optimistic about the future – while the economy appears to be more buoyant, austerity measures are having a very grave impact on the museum sector. It is a worrying trend because government financing is increasingly difficult to sustain and important cultural institutions find themselves in competition with each other for ever decreasing funds. County Museums either seem to be facing closure or are looking, like Swansea Museum, at moving into charitable trust status. Moving towards independence through a charitable trust must seem very daunting but it can breath new life to an institution – bringing greater freedoms and providing a more fertile environment for innovation.”
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