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Cutbacks loom at Bradford museum
The National Media Museum needs to slash costs by 30 per cent as it revealed that visitor numbers have nearly halved in the past decade from a high of almost a million a year.
Shocked staff were yesterday told that a consultation about a proposed restructure would start immediately in a bid to get costs down and visitor numbers up.
The museum spends 30 per cent more per visitor than other museums in the group, which includes the Science Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, National Railway Museum (York), and the National Railway Museum (Shildon).
The group received £38 million in aid from central Government in 2011/12, but it is not known how much of that was given to the National Media Museum and the implications of the first phase of the review will not be known until next month.
The plan is to get Bradford in line with the other venues, but the museum has not revealed what the actual spend per head is or how much the budget is or what it could be reduced to.
Management will look at clawing back savings in running costs and expenditure on the estate.
There are 183 people employed by the museum with 41 of those casual staff. All staff were given a letter outlining the formal proposals but the museum would not reveal the exact nature of them or how many jobs could be affected.
In a statement released by the museum, Heather Mayfield, the deputy director of the Science Museum Group, said: "We are confident that by going back to basics and focusing on the delivery of new exhibitions, events, a vibrant cinema programme and increased access to the collection, we will reconnect the Museum with its audiences and underline its position as a national and international cultural force.
“We recognise that this is an extremely difficult time for staff and will ensure that consultation will be conducted with the utmost consideration for any staff member affected.”
The National Media Museum, formerly the National Museum of Photography. Film and Television, has been based in Bradford since 1983.
The statement said that the review “aims to deliver an improved public exhibition, events and cinema programme, which appeals more to audiences locally and nationally, supports its status as a national museum and increases access to its world famous collections of film, photography and television”.
Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council’s executive member for culture, said: “In this climate of swingeing National Government cuts, none of us are safe and that includes the National Media Museum which is predominantly funded by central Government – the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
“I'm pleased however that the museum has reaffirmed its commitment to Bradford, recently appointing a new director, Jo Quinton-Tulloch who has a world-class reputation.
“It's interesting to note that the visitor numbers to the museum are now increasing. The visitor numbers this summer were up 10,000 on the same period last year and we will work with the museum to continue this upward trend."
Staff leaving work last night were keeping tight-lipped about the cuts announcement.
But a museum spokesman said: “People have been wanting to know what’s happening because they want to feel more settled but no-one will know much until the end of the three-week consultation.
“It’s a catch between being able to fund exciting innovative projects and being able to run a cost-effective, viable museum.”