Thursday, October 07, 2010

MSP urges Highland Council to keep Nairn Museum open

"Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart has urged Highland Council to provide enough money to keep Nairn Museum open.
He has written to the local authority’s Chief Executive Alistair Dodds asking him to ensure the council maintains its £14,000 a year service level agreement with the museum’s trustees.
The council owns Viewfield House, the museum’s home, and leases it rent free to the museum’s trustees, for which they are extremely grateful.
However the museum would find itself in serious difficulty if the council adopts a suggestion in a consultation document to reduce funding by 66.66%, to less than £5,000. "

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the Townsfolk need to consider a community buyout.

Duncan said...

We've got to be realistic here.
Everything is going to be affected by the forthcoming cuts including the Nairn Museum. There will be few exemptions except for teas and luches for councillors.

nairnbairn said...

This local museum is just as deserving of public support as the swimming pool. It provides an equally important and valuable local service.

There's some interesting information and comment about the museums of the Highlands at http://thc.highlandlife.net/budget_consultation/further_savings_ideas_community_facilities/review_museum_provision


This reveals that the Council spends £1.5 million per year on museums. But they do not publish a breakdown of where and how this money is spent.

Almost all the museums in the region are, like Nairn, small local independent museums run by volunteers and trustees. There are 19 of them. Most get very modest grants from the Council. They deliver an astonishing diversity of knowledge, research and facilities for residents, students and visitors at very low cost so are already delivering good value for money.

The only two museums which the Council appears to run and fund directly are the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery (now there's a surprise!) and the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore. Calling these "regional" museums is a spurious distinction. It does not justify treating or funding them differently. The Council also runs the new Heritage and Records Centre (also in Inverness...) but that is presumably a separate budget heading.

Both logic and current policy-thinking suggests that the local, community-based museums should be sustained. If savings have to be made, the Council should step back from - and reduce their expenditure on - the large central institutions that they are currently funding directly and (presumably) almost completely.

Rather than cutting the small sums of money provided to support the small local independent museums, the Council should either make a relatively small percentage cut in the large allocations made to these centrally-run museums, or hive them off to be run independently too.

We must continue to resist the Council's efforts to use the budget cuts exercise as a way of destroying the good-value low-cost amenities and services of communities all around the Highlands, while continuing to spend much larger sums of money on centralised facilities of all kinds in Inverness.