York Museums Trust: £1.95m bailout bid

Council taxpayers are to be asked to provide guarantees of up to £1.95 million in financial support as the York Museums Trust (YMT) project a budget deficit.

Castle Museum

According to figures being considered by the Council next week the Trust, – which manages the Yorkshire & Castle Museums as well as the Art Gallery, – faces a £1.54 million deficit this year.

It has already made provision for £200,000 in redundancy costs. A 20% reduction in staffing is planned. The Arts Council have provided an emergency grant of £412,000.

£3.5 million of the Trust’s annual income comes from admission charges. These have largely dried up as a result of the COVID health scare.

The report says;

Covid-19 therefore creates an immediate financial threat to YMT’s
continued existence and the trustees have now logged a serious
incident report with the Charities Commission reflecting the fact that
they will require financial support in order to remain a going concern.
Without this they will run out of cash in January 2021.

Furthermore, the ongoing financial position will remain difficult into 21/22 since surveys of visitors undertaken nationally by the Association of Large
Visitor Attractions suggest that only 20% of the previous audience
numbers will be received on reopening.

If the Trust folds, then the museums – and most liabilities – would revert to the Council. It is estimated that, in such a scenario, the Council would face additional annual expenditure of around £2 million a year.

YMT has requested revenue funding support of £1.35m this year and up to £600k next year in order to keep York’s attractions open and to continue looking after the collections. This request reflects the fact that, as a charity, YMT are required to hold a level of financial reserves.

The York Museums Trust was founded in 2002 by the then Labour controlled Council. It currently receives an annual subsidy of £300,000 from York taxpayers.

The Yorkshire Museum is expected to remain closed until next March. The Art Gallery and Castle Museum (bookings only) have reopened.

NB. The YMT management were criticised during the lock-down period for failing to promptly reopen the Museum Gardens for use by residents. The gardens were one of the few open spaces available for socially distant exercise in the City centre.

Museum Gardens were slow to reopen

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