Monday, June 13, 2011

The Pumphouse Museum

I am sorry that the Pumphouse Educational Trust have decided to close down. They have been working in Rotherhithe since 1989 and I know that their work has been valued by local schools and residents.

I am afraid that they are one of the victims of the Government's spending cuts. As I have said previously, you cannot take £34 million out of our budget this year and honestly believe that it will have no impact on the services we provide and the organisations which we support - especially with another £50 million of cuts to come over the next two years.

So for anyone who is angry at Southwark Council for the cuts to the Pumphouse's funding my advice is that they should really direct their ire towards central government.

For organisations like the Pumphouse we have tried to ease the cuts by encouraging applications to our Voluntary Sector Transition Fund, and also tried to encourage access to other sources of funding. Schools budgets have significantly increased this year - so it may have been that some solution would have been possible in collaboration with the museum's principal users.

Of course it is always open to organisations such as the Pumphouse not to try and battle on, so I respect the decision they have taken.

We are not alone in facing difficult choices about what museums and organisations we support. This extract from the BBC news website yesterday, which includes references to the Pumphouse, includes a quote from Mark Taylor, Director of the Museums Association:

"Mr Taylor said councils are facing painful choices, and it could be better to close some museums in order to preserve the best.

"I personally would prefer to see a slightly smaller number of museums kept open and active, rather than all the museums kind of set in aspic, with no budget at all to do anything.""

The full article is here


paskew said...

The Pumhouse applied for the Transition fund money and it was turned down. Interesting that the Council sent another letter saying that The Pumphouse had applied for a seconary round of funding. This was not the case. A true case of cynical politicking to put the Trusteesin the frame for blame of the Museum.

paskew said...

Could I remind you that it was all Labour Councillors who voted to uphold the spending cuts. At the meeting no deputations were allowed and they voted for the cuts as a pure bit of politicking, to show up show up the Libs.

In addition, following an application for Transition funding, it was refused! This was followed by a communication from Southwark Council stating that the Pumphouse should apply for second stage of Transition funding. They could not apply for the second stage of funding because they were refused at the first stage!! Had the Trustees of the Pumphouse responded to this, highlighting that they did not want to apply for the second stage, the Council could turn around and say that the blames for the closure was down to the Trustees for not applying. Very cynical.

As regards Mr Taylors comments, this is a generalisation: The Pumphouse Educational Museum is/was first and foremost an education centre, run for the teaching of ecology with a small (four or five vignettes with a handful of showcases) room dedicated to the history of Rotherhithe, also used in teaching. The large central room (containing Edwardian -1960s memorabilia collected over the past 20 years)was used as part of the Reminiscences programme, dealing with elderly and dementia issues: by definition part of a living community programme.

By quoting Mr Taylor you are trying to deflect any responsibility that you have by taking away funding from education. The funding that the Pumphouse received paid for Caroline Marais' salary and costs associated with the everyday running of the buildng (core funding). In addition she applied for grants from charitable institutions to pay for all the educational courses that took place there.

It was not a museum that was destined to be "set is aspic"; it was used a part of a vibrant educational programme.

By removing the core funding, she could not apply for these grants. Southwark Council effectively pulled the rug from under her feet. The Transition funding issue was, and is a red herring.