The Head of Museums introduced two reports which outlined the proposal to create a new Trust for Arts, Museums and Heritage in the Hampshire-Solent area, and provided a view of how Arts and Museums services in Eastleigh might be delivered under the new proposals.
The new Trust would be Hampshire’s leading cultural organisation and would take the form of a charitable company limited by guarantee and independently governed by a group of trustees from the local community and business world. The founding partners would be Hampshire County Council, Southampton City Council and Winchester City Council. The Trust’s mission would be to provide outstanding arts and heritage experiences, working closely with local communities, businesses, schools and organisations.
A five-year strategy would be developed, with a number of objectives, including raising the national and international profile of Hampshire’s arts and heritage, increasing access to regional, national and international collections and embedding learning and community engagement across its services.
The business case was currently in the final stages of development and proposals were being finalised with regard to the provision of long-term lease or loan of the properties and collections currently owned by the three partner authorities; grant funding agreements, central support services and transfer of staff.
It was anticipated that the benefit of a charitable trust model would be to improve capacity to harness new sources of money for re-investment in services. These included activities that would increase audiences, develop new potential income and grant-aid strands, maximise tax relief opportunities and improve the efficient use of resources.
Under the proposal, the delivery and development of services at Eastleigh Museum would be transferred to the new Trust. No change to current service levels would take place, although frontline staff would transfer to the Trust under TUPE arrangements. Potential benefits would include promotion of services via a dedicated website and e-marketing strategy, access to the wider fundraising and income generating opportunities and capacity of the new Trust and wider community engagement at all levels of activity.
The Head of Museums reported that the three partner authorities would decide whether to proceed with the establishment of a new Trust in December 2012-January 2013. With regard to the County Council, the Culture, Communities and Rural Affairs Select Committee would discuss the proposal on 20 November 2012, and the Executive Member for Culture and Recreation would make a decision on 5 December, informed by comments from all partners. If a decision was made to proceed, it was intended that the new Trust would be established during 2013/14 and that services would be transferred from 2014/5 onwards.
In considering the proposal to set up a new Trust, members of the Committee expressed a number of concerns regarding the implications for Eastleigh Museum, including:
· Compared with the three founding partner authorities, Eastleigh Borough Council might be considered a small partner, and Eastleigh Museum sidelined in future, with a much lower level of care;
· Benefits 1 and 2 contained in the report (a website and e-marketing strategy and a market of 850,000 arts lovers) were already in place;
· There was no guarantee that a new Trust would attract funding and partners might decide to reduce funding in years to come;
· It had been a long-standing ambition that a Discovery Centre would be provided in Eastleigh, combining library and museums services. It was likely that this ambition would be lost under a new Trust;
· Financial support would be needed for five years to establish the Trust, which would require more funding from smaller organisations such as Eastleigh Borough Council;
· The future provision of pension schemes for staff who were transferred to the Trust;
It was considered that the timescale for the Executive Member’s decision on whether to set up the Trust was very short and no business case or costings were currently available. Eastleigh Local Area Committee (ELAC), the current funding partner for the Museum, needed to look at the proposal in more detail before it could make considered comments.
The Chairman advised that he had received a letter from the Executive Member for Culture and Recreation, inviting comments from this Committee by 16 November 2012. He requested that the Head of Museums provide more details of the proposal for consideration at a team meeting of ELAC members on 8 Nov, and subsequently at a meeting of ELAC on 13 November. If other members of this Committee would forward their comments to him, he would then include all responses in a letter to the Executive Member for Culture and Recreation.