Closing museums not an option despite pandemic ‘significant uncertainty’
PUBLISHED: 05:57 31 October 2020
Closures of Norfolk museums are not being considered, despite the attractions facing “significant financial uncertainty” due to the Covid-19 crisis and council cuts.
Museums in the county have been unable to operate as normal since March due to the coronavirus outbreak and safety restrictions.
And despite Norwich Castle reopening earlier this month, the service has overspent by more than £1.383m already this year.
But the head of the county’s museums service has pledged that despite the county council having to make savings worth £26m, closures are not being considered.
At a meeting of the joint museums committee, held on Friday, October 30, Steve Miller said: “We continue to sail through fairly uncharted waters. The significant overspend which, as reported, is over £1.3m, is very much down to the fact that we haven’t been able to operate like anything close to normal since the beginning of the financial year.
“Whilst we have returned to a degree of opening we’re clearly far from back to normal and that’s likely to continue until at least the end of the financial year.”
Other attractions which have also reopened are the Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth, Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse near Dereham and Lynn Museum, while the service’s six other sites will reopen when safe to do so.
You may also want to watch:
Mr Miller, director of culture and heritage, added: “We have reduced that overspend to a little over £1m. It’s not where we would like it to be but it’s much better.
“We have financial pressures coming down the line - the most significant is reductions in local authority funding.”
He said the service was asked to model savings, and said: “It’s fair to say that’s a pretty significant set of decisions to make.
“The current modelling is that we will not be looking at closures and we will not be looking at a reduction in opening hours across any of our 10 museums in terms of making savings.”
A report published ahead of the meeting stated: “The service is currently facing significant uncertainty in relation to its financial position.
The forecast over-spend is most significantly due to the predicted loss of income for the service during the extended period of closure and a reduction in normal visitor numbers following site re-openings.”
The museums service applied for Arts Council coronavirus funds but was unsuccessful.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box above for details.