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TORBAY COUNCIL BUDGET: Director: 'Cash cuts could force museum to close'

By Herald Express  |  Posted: July 24, 2014

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REAL fears Torquay Museum could close following Torbay Council budget cutbacks have been expressed by the museum's director Philip Collins.

In the latest round of budget proposals, the museum's budget saw a second cut to funding of £20,000, on top of savings already agreed in February.

Director Mr Collins has warned the cuts to the charitably run museum could have a 'dramatic negative effect', saying there is a real possibility the museum could close.

The latest proposal means the museums' budget — covering Torquay Museum, Brixham Heritage Museum and Torre Abbey — could face a 42 per cent cut in 2015/16.

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Torquay Museum currently receives £76,500 a year in council grants, a 'significant part of its income' alongside visitor admissions and trading, with Brixham Heritage Museum receiving £20,300.

An Arts Council and Heritage Lottery-funded 'Future Museums Project' has spent three years looking at how all three museums can join together to be more sustainable, including sharing marketing, catering and education resources.

Mr Collins said the museum had made good progress over the past two years in restructuring itself and sharing resources and management with Brixham Museum and Torre Abbey, but was not yet in a position to 'substantially reduce costs'.

He said: "We need more time to complete this restructuring, and unfortunately Torbay Council's proposed substantial grant cut will kill Torquay Museum before we are able to put ourselves on a secure financial footing for the future."

In its consultation document, Torbay Council said: "There is the potential risk if savings cannot be achieved from the Future Museum Project, savings may need to be identified elsewhere within this service. This could mean the museums could not continue to operate."

The council said the museum's collections are considered important locally and regionally and local people would want to ensure they are maintained.

It also said the cuts would affect young people as free access to education elements provided by the museum could potentially be lost.

Although Mr Collins said Torquay Museum's visitor numbers have risen by 35 per cent over the past five years, council figures show the numbers dropped in 2013/14 from 25,957 to 18,743. Brixham Museum reached its target with 12,581 visitors.

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