At the end of last year, Derby City Council (DCC) announced a consultation on their budget plans for 2023-24 and beyond. The savings they must make are very steep and will impact on a range of services across the city. Local councils across England are facing similar challenges.
For the next financial year 2023-24 Derby Museums has been asked to accept a cut in its annual grant of 10% from £710,000 to £639,000 (these figures include an £80,000 recharge which the museums do not see, to the council IT and HR teams). This is just the latest in a series of budget cuts.
The proposed cuts will be compounded by the challenging financial climate. High inflation has increased our costs; the energy crisis has meant that we expect at least a 100% increase to the costs of electricity and gas.
The cumulative effect of cuts and increased costs are likely to have a devastating effect on Derby Museums. We will be compelled to explore all options over the next year or so, which includes site closures, reduction in opening hours and staffing, discontinuing of free family activities and the introduction of admission charges.
In the last few years, Derby Museums has done the right thing. We have delivered an £18m award-winning Museum of Making; a museum of national importance and vital to the tourist economy of the city. It was a finalist in the 2022 Art Fund Museum of the Year. We built a £2m endowment from scratch and boosted capacity to generate earned income. We are also delivering important skills programmes for children and young people across the city. Over the years we’ve brought an ambitious cultural programme of exhibitions, activities and events to Derby, including Leonardo Da Vinci: A Life in Drawing, Poppies: Weeping Window, the Derby Ram Trail and work with our local communities to co-produce exhibitions of relevance and interest. However, the current financial model leaves little headroom and as things stand, I fear we may ‘run out of road.’
Whether you live, work, visit or benefit from services in Derby you are entitled to respond to the consultation. It has considerable impact on councillors if they know that people really care about particular services. If you are able to spare time, please respond to the consultation [https://letstalk.derby.gov.uk/derbys-budget-consultation-2023-24] urging the council to reconsider their proposed cuts to Derby Museums.
Tony Butler, Executive Director