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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Budget cuts to Carlisle's Tullie House museum to be debated

Proposals to slash Tullie House’s annual budget by £250,000 will go in front of councillors next week.

The city’s iconic museum and gallery is now run by a charitable trust.

Every year it has to submit a business plan to Carlisle City Council, which will then provide its core funding.

The attraction currently receives more than £1.2m a year from the council.

But although this will continue in 2014/15, the contribution is set to drop significantly the following year, by £250,000, meaning it will get just £967,200 in 2015/16. This is a reduction is a drop of about 20 per cent.

The proposal has already sparked a bitter row between senior Labour and Conservative councillors.

Conservative Gareth Ellis said such a cut will have a devastating impact on work of Tullie House.

But council leader Colin Glover has hit back, saying the museum has ambitious plans for the future, and being part of the trust means it can access funds the council could not.

“We have given Tullie House two years notice of this saving. We currently give the just over £1.2m in funding. We are not taking that away, just asking find ways to reduce it by £250,000 by 2015,” he said.

“Nobody ever likes reductions in funding but the trust are confident they can go forward and be successful in the future.”

The business plan will go to the council’s executive committee on December 16.

It says the drop in funding will be made up elsewhere – including increasing its fundraising efforts. The report states: “Excluding the council’s funding, we are budgeting for an increase in sponsorship and grants as a result of engaging a professional fundraiser [at a cost of £40,000 a year] whose activities have been assumed to generate additional income.”

It goes on to state the expected increases will rise from £73,000 in 2014/15 to £111,000 in 2015/16 and £144,000 in the final year of the plan.

It also hopes to make savings by tendering for some services – such as payroll, building maintenance and IT – and reducing its marketing budget, among other measures.

There will also be some use of the trust’s reserves to keep the attraction running while trustees work on new ways to generate future income.

Carlisle City Council is not the only authority to cut arts funding as part of its response to national budget cuts.

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