The future of the National Media Museum is again in jeopardy, the Telegraph & Argus can reveal – only eight months after ministers declared it had been “saved”.
The iconic attraction faces a potentially devastating £900,000 budget shortfall, an inquiry by MPs has been told, after fresh Government funding cuts.
Now the renewed threat to the museum has triggered an appeal for help to the Treasury from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which is alarmed by the second crisis.
Gerry Sutcliffe MP (Lab, Bradford South) said he was seeking an urgent meeting with Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: “The future of the museum is again in jeopardy, because it faces a potential revenue shortfall of £900,000 a year.
“That means we need to work with the Science Museum Group, the Government and the Council to find a way forward.
“I want to hold a meeting with Ed Vaizey as quickly as possible. He acted as the honest broker in the discussions we have had so far.”
The extent of the new financial ‘black hole’ was revealed to the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee on its recent visit to the museum.
It is much larger than the figure put forward last December for savings being sought across the Science Museum Group of £787,000 over two years.
The T&A has also been told independently that the museum is seriously concerned about a “big chunk of money” to be found, although closure is not being discussed.
A five-year masterplan to revive it, put forward by the museum itself, was accepted by trustees of the Science Museum Group in December.
It includes plans to create two permanent galleries, a temporary exhibition space, overhaul its lobby and entrances and join forces with a cinema partner.
But that plan is now at risk of being derailed because of the revenue shortfall – despite Mr Vaizey’s statement, last summer, there was “absolutely no reason” for concern about closure.
MPs on the culture committee were told by a senior DCMS official that a request for help had been sent to the Treasury.
Asked about that letter, a DCMS spokesman said only: “We have been in discussions with both the department for business and the Treasury about further support for the Science Museum Group.
“The decision in last week’s Budget not to make further reductions in departmental spending is good news for all our museums.”
The museum itself declined to comment.
Philip Davies MP (Con, Shipley) said: “I share Gerry’s concerns, which were set out to the select committee on our recent visit to Bradford.
“It just shows that we cannot be complacent and everyone still needs to work together to ensure the long-term viability of the museum. We will be maintaining the pressure on the Government, the Council and the Science Museum Group to ensure the museum’s viability.”
Last month, David Green, the leader of Bradford Council, suggested the Council would not help fund any rescue – insisting responsibility “lies with the Science Museum Group”.
But Mr Sutcliffe urged him to think again, saying: “The Council will have to be involved, it will have to put something into the pot. It can’t say it wants to help the museum and then do nothing about it.
“Our efforts have always been about more than simply saving the museum – it’s also about seeking investment to ensure it remains a major visitor centre.”