On Tuesday night a public meeting was held to discuss the way forward for the Helston Museum. Let’s be clear, it is not closing down, but the funding arrangements have to change. This museum is the only directly funded town museum in Cornwall. The others receive either no funding, or little funding from Cornwall Council.
Luckily, the current £70,000 running costs are not going to be instantly removed. This money is safe for the 2012/13 period. However, after that, this will be reduced to around £40,000. In simple terms the museum needs to find roughly £20,000 per year to run.
Previous ideas of the best way forward or model was for another museum to take over Helston’s, or the town council running it. The town council has said it is not interested in running it, but would like to be involved. As for another museum taking over, none have stepped forward as yet. This only leaves one other model that has a chance of working.
This model would be some sort of trust. A trust is a good model as it opens up access to other funding that a local authority cannot access. It also allows you to be exempt/claim back VAT and NDR; this in turn would reduce the overheads. This however needs people to be involved in either being a trustee, or volunteer. Currently the Friends of the Museum do a great job, but their numbers are limited.
Last nights meeting was meant to see how much public interest there was in helping out. OK, I never expected to fill the entire school hall, but I thought more than 16 people would turnout. In fact, it was not 16 new people as 10 already had some involvement in the museum. Pretty disappointing really.
Anyway, those there discussed the way forward with ideas. The ideas were rather good with a common theme of longer opening hours (currently 10am-1pm 6 days a week). More volunteers, which in turn would enable to open longer without incurring more staff wages. Avenues of funding were also discussed which would be essential to move the museum forward.
All in all despite the poor numbers who turned up a lot was achieved. Even better most who were not already members of the Friends of the Museum joined. I feel even if you don’t want to help out in person you could help the museum by joining the friends for £3 per year! I have, so why don’t you?