Plans for Royal Pavilion and museums trust come full circle

Running the Royal Pavilion and Museums as a charitable trust is back on the cards.

In June, Brighton and Hove City Council shelved plans to bring the iconic buildings in the heart of the city under a trust with The Dome and Festival, after staff threatened strike action.

A report going before the Policy, Resources and Growth Committee on Tuesday, including an external review by consultants Mike Woodward Associates, shows the Dome option has now been ruled out.

In its place are plans for a charitable trust taking over the running of the the Pavilion and museums, including Preston Manor, Hove and the Booth museums – essentially the same option originally put forward and approved almost two years ago in January 2017.

When the council approved the plan for the joint Dome and museums trust in January this year, Conservative Councillors Steve Bell and Garry Peltzer Dunn criticised the lack of consultation with staff.

The GMB then described the joint trust plan as “gifting control of some of the city’s most famous cultural sites and collections into the private sector”.

According to the report, this time staff were involved at all levels, along with union staff, to make sure the process to make the Pavilion and museums sustainable was successful.

It describes staff as experiencing “consultation fatigue” after multiple information sharing and drop-in sessions.

A charitable trust was the preferred option listed by staff with the best chance of ensuring long-term success.

Charity tax arrangements would also financially benefit the future trust.

At the moment the council is looking into discussions with the Royal Pavilion and Museums Foundation (RPMF) which is being considered to operate the trust.

The RPMF, is an independent fundraising charity, originally established as the Friends of the Royal Pavilion and Museums.

With changes to its constitution, the RPMF could run the new operational trust without needing to create a new charitable company from scratch.

However, its trustees may not agree to the move.

Before any changes take place a financial strategy needs to be put in place as well as a leadership team to manager an the independent charity.

Organisations such as the Arts Council England and any proposed trustees would have to be confident the trust can be viable.

The consultant’s report says more works needs to be done to update the service by the end of 2019.

Issues range from the need to fill vacant posts to basic cash handling.

At the moment the Pavilion and Museums service is described as “currently not fit for transfer to a trust model”.

A move to trust status would happen before the next Arts Council England funding period in 2022, to make sure the Pavilion and Museums can apply for money independently.

In a timeline created by council officers it is hoped the process will be completed by March 2021.

The Policy, Resources and Growth Committee meets in public at Hove Town Hall from 4pm on Thursday 11 October.

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    All this makes one wonder if this is the reason why the changes to the ground floor of Hove’s Carnegie Library were slipped through Planning last Christmas without informing the cross-Party “Working Group”. All of which means that future “Wotking Groups” will not be accorded any credence, and seen as a gesture.

    • rolivan Reply

      Christopher what will happen to the over 2 million artefacts, have they been audited?There are so many that have not been seen for years

      • Christopher Hawtree Reply

        Yes, there has long been puzzlement about everything out of sight – and the way in which things have been taken from Hove to Brighton. It seems that the proposed set-up could prevent the Carnegie from being squashed into the Museum. After all that we have been through, it is only sensible to be wary of what they might try next with the Library. The Chief Executive Geoff Raw was weak in allowing officers to persist with trying to close it down. He should have known they have “previous” on this (there were three attempts to close it between 2003 and 2014 – two of which were headed off behind the scenes, as the fourth one should have been if Labour had had a stronger Leader than cllr Morgan).

    • Peter Challis Reply

      What has this got to do with your beloved library? Should a trust model should be put in place covering management of the Caregieas well? Perhaps they’d decide merging with the museum would be a very sensible idea for the residents of Hove?

  2. Rostrum Reply

    Are the visitor number available for the museum? Especially those before and since the entry charges were adopted…

    • Christopher Hawtree Reply

      Pallant House Gallery in Chichester is a bargain. A shame that Brighton has no intention of establishing a proper Art Gallery (and has shrunk the number of paintings in what was Hove’s Art Gallery and Museum).

  3. SamC Reply

    Chief Executive Geoff Raw was weak – Understatement of the year Chris. Spineless, evasive and as weak as…..wrong man in the wrong job and not respected by his colleagues

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