Birmingham City Council are planning on making £500,000 funding cuts to Birmingham Museums Trust this year.
Birmingham is known for its rich history from its once market town identity to being known as the city of a thousand trades in the 18th century. We have the many museums in Birmingham to thank for showing us the ways in which the city has developed over the centuries. These historical sites have given us an insight into old trades, like Coffin Works and the Museum of The Jewellery Quarter, and have helped to make Birmingham into the city it is today.
The Birmingham Museums Trust is a charity that runs a lot of these museums and historical houses across the city. A warning came from them on the 14th December that revealed Birmingham City Council are reducing £500,000 of the funds Birmingham Museums Trust receive. One of the museums included in this is the Museum of The Jewellery Quarter.
This museum is a preserved time capsule of the Smith and Pepper jewellery factory that was once in its place. When the original owner retired in 1981, they locked up and left everything as it was including tools on the benches and cups of tea lying around. So as you can imagine, it’s quite the gem for the Jewellery Quarter. If you have never visited this museum, you can find out more on the trust’s website.
If these cuts come into action, it will result in a substantial decrease in the amount of public access to some of the museums the charity look after. Alongside the Museum of The Jewellery Quarter, this also includes Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Thinktank Science Museum, Aston Hall, Blakesley Hall, Sarehole Mill, Soho House and Weoley Castle. All of these are at risk. Which will start with cuts to the opening times as well as the amount of staff at each of these sites. There is also the possibility of closure to some of the sites although nothing is confirmed just yet.
“We understand the city is in a difficult position, but with cuts as severe as these we have no option but to look at reductions in service across all our sites.” Museums Trust Director Ellen McAdam said when asked by Birmingham Mail. “We want to ensure that Birmingham remains a leading city for arts and culture, and continues to thrive. We hope the public support shown for Birmingham Museums Trust will raise awareness of how detrimental these cuts would be for the city.”
The museums are vital to our city’s culture and they contribute significantly to the city’s economy too, during 2015/16, all of the museums combined raked in £2.2 million in admission charges.
The Deputy Leader of the Birmingham City Council, Cllr Ian Ward has said: “We are consulting on proposals to a reduction in the money given to Birmingham Museums Trust as we are at a point where cuts to council funding from central government leave us no option but to draw up such proposals.
“We will consider the petition as part of the public consultation process but would urge anyone signing it to also have their say through our official budget consultation survey.”