Protecting the future of arts, museums and heritage services in Hampshire
Tuesday, 03 September 2013
The creation of a new, independent organisation to deliver and run arts, museums and heritage services across the county will be discussed by Hampshire County Council next week.
Hampshire County Council and Winchester City Council are putting the finishing touches to plans that could see the two councils collaborating to create a new charitable company limited by guarantee to deliver these services in future: the company would be known as the Hampshire Solent Cultural Trust.
The Council's Culture, Communities and Rural Affairs Select Committee will be asked to scrutinise the business case for the proposed Trust at their meeting on 10 September, which has been developed with feedback collected from the public, staff and other interested parties, so that everyone's views are considered.
The Hampshire Solent area is among the richest in the UK for culture, and it plays a key role in driving the visitor economy and encouraging business investment. Working together, the local museums sector has already secured £2million of external investment between 2011/12 and 2014/15 assuming a collaborative direction of travel, and has the potential to attract further investment over the next five years.
The new Trust would aim to build on this success, and provide outstanding arts and heritage experiences to visitors. Because it would be a larger organization, and have charitable status, it could generate significant additional investment and attract high profile national exhibitions while also working closely with local communities, businesses, education providers and the wider cultural sector. In doing so, this would achieve the goal of putting the Hampshire Solent cultural offer in the UK's top ten by 2020.
In addition, the two councils - which would continue to provide funding to the trust through annual grants - could together save a combined total of £530,000 per annum by year five, and attract an estimated £2-£2.5million of external revenue investment for the Hampshire Solent cultural offer.
Cllr Keith Chapman, Hampshire County Council's Executive Member for Culture, Recreation and Countryside, said: "Under these proposals, museum collections would be loaned to the new Trust, and new acquisitions would be held in trust on behalf of the Councils. With Winchester and Hampshire bringing their collections together in this way, this unites the county story together with its collections for the first time and should ensure some of the best collections in the country are safeguarded for future generations.
"With ongoing budget constraints across the public sector as a whole, it's important we look at this long term, resilient solution. The intention of the Trust is not to reduce staff numbers but to protect the quality and future of heritage services on offer to residents across Hampshire. Its aim would be to boost the national profile of Hampshire's cultural heritage, attract more visitors, maximise opportunities for greater external investment, develop business enterprise and support, and reduce dependency over time on local authority funding."
Following scrutiny by the County Council's CCRA Select Committee on 10 September, Hampshire County Council's Executive Member for Culture, Recreation and Countryside will consider whether to go ahead with establishing the Trust, at his Decision Day meeting on 25 September.
Winchester City Council will then make their decision at the beginning of November. A final decision regarding the transfer of services will take place in Spring 2014.
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