Fresh cash boost for Fleetwood Museum

A Fylde coast museum is to receive some extra cash to help it stay open after its future was threatened by cutbacks.

Thursday, 11th August 2016, 12:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th August 2016, 1:44 pm
Trustees and volunteers from the Fleetwood Museum are battling to keep it safe from closure

Fleetwood Museum, on Queens Terrace, is one of five Lancashire museums eligible for a share of a £162,000 cash injection from the Arts Council for England to support new owners to take them over.

The cash is not to be used to cover running costs but is specifically to fund any particular expertise and advice needed by groups who plan to take over the facilities from cash-strapped Lancashire County Council.

The county council’s dire finances means Fleetwood - along with Preston’s Museum of Lancashire, Lancaster’s Judges’ Lodgings, Helmshore Mills and Burnley’s Queen Street Mill - face possible closure in September.

The closures were announced as part of cuts to services as the authority balances its books to cope with a £56m shortfall in 2018/19.

In the case of Fleetwood Museum, a rescue package is already being put together by Fleetwood Town Council, which is raising extra revenue via a small addition for the town’s council tax payers to fork out in their bills.

The Town Council is looking to help fund running costs, while the Fleetwood Museum Trust will continue to run it and is also applying for charitable status.

The council is waiting to find out officially whether County Hall has accepted its bid to take over the facility. Coun Terry Rogers, chairman of Fleetwood Town Council, said: “We welcome this money from the Arts Council. Any extra cash to help us with the transitional phase of taking over the museum can only be helpful.”

And Keith Porter, chairman of Fleetwood Museum Trust, said: “This money will save us digging into our existing funds and is very welcome indeed.”

The £30m Museum Resilience fund, which aims to support museums to become more sustainable and resilient, agreed to support a project to ensure the smooth transition of the five sites to potential new owners.

John Orna-Ornstein, director of Museums at Arts Council England, said: “The focus of our investment approach for museums in 2015-18 is on building a more resilient sector. The Museum Resilience fund is a key part of that, providing vital support to museums right across the country.”

The project, christened ‘Waving not drowning’, is described as a “strategic plan for Lancashire’s museums.

County Coun Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, said: “This is obviously really good news.

“It will be used to provide a tailored package of support to the potential new operators of the museums when they take them over, to give them the best possible chance of success.”