Basil Greenwood, Torquay Museum manager:
This has been a difficult year for Torquay Museum and you may well have heard that there are changes afoot.
Some of you may have heard that we could be struggling financially.
Hopefully, I can put people’s minds at ease by outlining what has been happening.
In common with many businesses, the last 18 months have been a difficult time for the museum, with the pandemic seriously limiting our ability to generate visitor income.
But with outstanding support from Arts Council England and advice from industry experts, we are re-evaluating our offer, re-focusing our efforts and looking forward to carving out a more sustainable future from the New Year.
There are going to be some changes you need to know about:
In order to keep our costs down we will only be opening our doors to the public four days per week – Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.
This is not a decision taken lightly but with low numbers of visitors, it is simply not viable to keep the doors open on more days each week.
We will keep this under review, but need the support of the public in terms of increased footfall if we are to reverse this decision. Your support is vital to our future.
We are going to be closed to the public for the whole of January to give our now-reduced staff the time to build a new way of working and plan for future projects to help us survive financially.
The good news is that we will still be continuing our education sessions for primary schools.
We have already seen our school’s engagement growing back after the necessary lull during the peak of Covid lockdowns.
We are also working on a new programme of temporary exhibitions, events and activities particularly focussing on engaging the public in new and exciting ways so they can enjoy the museum and its collections.
We will also continue to ensure our extensive collections and galleries are maintained in good condition – this is a big job and we rely on volunteers to help us achieve these aims.
Regrettably, the Torbay Museums Trust Board have had to take some difficult decisions about staffing, as this is the major cost of running the museum.
We are very sorry to lose some valuable members of the team, but believe that the new structure and business plan will help us to secure the longer-term future.
While organisational change is difficult we now have great confidence in a solid foundation so that we can continue looking after our amazing collections and deliver a diverse programme for everyone to enjoy.
Over the Christmas period we are open to the public today, December 23, and December 28 to 30.
We will then re-open to the public on Tuesday, February 1.
We will be relying on your support over the months and years ahead so please come into the museum when we re-open our doors in February.
Bring your friends and family in to enjoy what we have on offer.
If you have not been in to see us before you may well be surprised at the wonderful objects we have on display and the incredible stories they tell.
I wish you all a happy Christmas and a safe and healthy New Year.
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