Wakes in Museum Gardens and staff cuts – how York Museums Trust aims to make ends meet

The Hospitium in York Museum Gardens. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr
21 Sep 2015 @ 7.47 pm
| News

Wakes and memorial services could be held in York’s Museum Gardens as a way of raising revenue, York Museums Trust has revealed.

It is also planning cuts in staff and non-staff costs of around ten per cent in 2016-17 as a way of making ends meet.

York Museums Trust runs these venues:
York Castle Museum
Yorkshire Museum
York Art Gallery
York St Mary’s
York Museum Gardens

The trust revealed these plans in answers it gave to questions posed by members of York Gallery And Museum Community.

This community group was set up by concerned residents after the trust revealed plans to charge adults for entry into the revamped York Art Gallery.

After concern was expressed during a community meeting that no one from the trust was available to answer their queries, YorkMix stepped in.

We asked if the trust would be willing to answer questions put by members of the community. It has done – and you can read the full Q&A here.

Wakes and weddings

In answer to a question about other avenues of income generation, the trust says it has already increased the number of events it hosts – “2014 saw a record 98 weddings at the Hospitium in the York Museum Gardens”.

Now it is looking to diversify further:

The York Venues team are increasing the number of hire options available, including drinks receptions at the gallery, wakes and memorials at the Hospitium and wedding ceremonies at York Castle Museum.

YMT says despite increasing revenue, more cuts are inevitable:

In spite of the additional income generated from this and through the introduction of charging, YMT is already having to plan further cuts in staff and non-staff costs of around 10% in 2016-17, reducing expenditure by c£700k.

Record low council investment

The trust says its cash reserves are “depleted from £1.2m to c£500k, which is less than one month’s expenditure, including salaries, and only a third of a prudent level”.

It accuses the council of breaking an agreement to pay it £1.2 million a year each year from 2013-2018. In 2015-16 it is paying only £600k.

Many local authority museum services have suffered severe cuts over the last few years, however we cannot find any that now has such low levels of investment as York.

Of those we looked at the average percentage of turnover provided by local authority funding was 34%.

Note that the proposed £300k Core Funding is only 4.5% of YMT’s current turnover and is only one third of the £950k maintenance costs of the public spaces and 18 buildings, including two Scheduled Monuments, in YMT’s care.

YMT are, in effect, already subsidising the maintenance of the City of York Council’s property.

– York Museums Trust

‘Residents’ support vital’

The trust says the people of York “are at the centre of the Trust’s plans for the future”.

We need their direct support more than ever.

YMT has been forced into having to charge residents because the Trust’s revenue from the council has been so drastically cut.

With the likelihood of further reductions in the future YMT believes that going forward it needs to establish a new relationship with York residents, one based around an annual ticket, the YMT Card, which we hope will be one route to a more direct dialogue with local supporters.

Read the full Q&A with York Museums Trust here

This article was updated at 9.55am on Tuesday, September 22, after the York Museums Trust contacted us to say that they had put “funerals at the Hospitium” in error