Future of museums and galleries agreed at Cabinet
Our Cabinet members have agreed a new vision for culture in Kirklees.
This means we will keep three museums and galleries venues and will increase opportunities in community and business venues, schools and care settings.
Oakwell Hall and Country Park, and Bagshaw Museum will remain open and a new Huddersfield Museum and Art Gallery will be created.
In the short term, Tolson Museum and the current art gallery will stay open to maintain a presence in south Kirklees.
The present Dewsbury Museum in Crow Nest Park, Tolson Museum, and Red House Museum in Gomersal will close.
How were the decisions on the future of museums and galleries made?
Cabinet Member for Creative Kirklees Cllr Graham Turner said that the proposals had been drawn up following a period of engagement with service users and the public.
“Obviously the majority of people wanted to keep all the museums. During the budget consultation in January, 55% of people wanted the collections where they are, but 45% felt we should display exhibitions in community and business venues.
“We have responded to this in the vision by proposing a mix of site based activities and other opportunities. It is clear that many residents love and value the buildings we have, but if we do not close any of the sites it will be impossible to achieve the savings we need to make. With a constantly diminishing budget, we have to change the cultural offer but I believe the changes will ensure that we can deliver a service for the residents of Kirklees that tells our story, in a different and more up to date way.
“In July, we had a three week engagement programme to provide information about our financial challenges. Whilst an online survey with 920 responses – plus letters, comments and emails –showed that most people wanted to keep all of the museums, the overall survey responses did not suggest an alternative to the three sites we have identified.”
Cllr Turner added:
“Changing lifestyles and increasing culture and leisure choices mean that the museum and galleries service needs to radically transform if it is to be relevant and resilient in the 21st century and make an impact on the district’s priorities.
“It is vital that Kirklees continues to support a strong cultural offer. The future resilience of towns and cities relies on mixed uses of retail, residential and culture and leisure opportunities. If companies look for recreational opportunities in a place and residents wish to have a choice of things to do, a quality cultural offer becomes an important ingredient in creating quality places which contribute to achieving a resilient economy.”
What happens next to the Museums and Galleries
We will invite people to submit expressions of interest for those museums not included in the final portfolio. Red House and Dewsbury Museum will stay open until at least the end of October 2016.
Long term plans for Oakwell Hall and Bagshaw Museum will be created to increase their attraction to visitors. Tolson Museum and Huddersfield Art Gallery will continue to run until a replacement is nearing completion.