To help York Museums Trust (YMT) recover from its necessary closure during the coronavirus pandemic, a programme of support and lobbying is proposed by City of York Council.
Senior councillors are to be asked to consider measures to mitigate the Trusts’ forecast of a shortfall of income due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The trustees have informed the council that they will require financial support in order for the charity to remain a ‘going concern’. Surveys of visitors undertaken nationally by the Association of Large Visitor Attractions suggest that 20% of the previous audience numbers will be received on reopening, and that forecast could be lower still.
The Executive is being asked to consider writing a letter of guarantee to YMT, providing them with access to a maximum of £1.95m over the next two years, should it be required. Amendments to payment terms are also recommended, meaning the Council would continue to provide payroll services up to a maximum of 60 days.
The Executive is also asked to consider the next steps for lobbying efforts, including writing to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to ask government for additional funding to support YMT in their particular circumstances. It also considers progressing working with the Local Government Association (LGA) to highlight the position of local authority museums in trusts to inform wider national lobbying efforts.
Cllr Darryl Smalley, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Communities, said: “York Museums Trust continues to make an invaluable contribution to making York such a great place to live, work and visit. YMT are key to supporting the Council’s Tourism Marketing Strategy, having reopened the Art Gallery with free admission, reopening the Castle Museum for pre-booked tours and opening the Museum Gardens. As the curator of the city’s collection, a significant contributor to the city’s cultural life and tourist economy, our intention is to do our best alongside York Museums Trust to secure its long-term future.”
Reyahn King, Chief Executive of York Museums Trust, said: "We recognise the huge part heritage, art and culture plays in supporting York's recovery as a tourism centre but also the importance of being open for local people to explore the spaces and collections they love.
“It is for these reasons we have reopened the majority of the sites in our care despite the fact we still face severe deficits. We hope the council will work with us to ensure we can continue to care for and share York's important collections and buildings and play a vital part in York's tourism economy."
A further report will be brought to the Executive in November with regard to YMT’s funding needed for 2020/21 and 2021/22, reflecting the measures agreed, visitor numbers and income generated, as well as responding to any support secured from Government and other agencies.
The Executive meeting takes place on Thursday 27 August and is available to watch online, either live or later at: www.york.gov.uk/webcasts
To find out more about the report, visit: https://democracy.york.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=733&MId=12296