I’ve written here before about my role as a trustee on the board of Luton Culture, the independent charity that runs the libraries, museums and arts service in Luton on behalf of the Council. Inevitably the austerity measures that the Government is having to take to to deal with the country’s deficit problem is working its way down to organisations like ours.
So Luton Culture is having to deal with difficult cuts in funding from the different bodies that provide our resources. We will be losing significant revenue from the Arts Council and the Renaissance in the Regions scheme which directly funds parts of the museum service. On top of that we have also been expecting cuts in the funding that we get from Luton Borough Council and over the past year have been deep in conversation with the Council about what these will be.
So I was very interested in the report that went to the Council’s Executive on the 3rd October that outlined four proposals for savings that the Council will begin consulting the public on. I’ve made the report available here as it gives a good summary of the financial challenges that Luton Culture faces and the steps we’ve already taken to deal with them.
The four savings proposals are:
- Closure of Wardown Park Museum on weekdays during term time for general public visits excluding pre booked tours from April 2012
- Move Fireworks to Stopsley Common as a pilot for 2012 and charge for parking at the new sports centre site to reduce the subsidy of the event
- Cease Summer Festival in St Georges Square from 2013
- Close John Dony Field Centre, Turners Knoll and Barton Road Museum Stores
None of these are particularly earth shattering and they are all ideas for saving money that Luton Culture have discussed with the Council. So I am not writing this with any sense of outrage.
However, I do so with some sadness as the proposal to stop putting on the Summer Festival in St George’s Square will mean the end of something that is rather dear to my heart, for reasons I have already written about here.
The Summer Festival has often had to put up with bad weather and sometimes the events put on haven’t worked as well as they might, but it has also had some really successful events, showcased new and often local talent, given people a good time, and added real value to the cultural life of the town. If it does have to stop it will be a shame.
However, what really worries me is that the end of the festival could mean that we stop thinking creatively about using St George’s Square as a venue for events. This would be a real waste of what is a fantastic space for use for cultural activities. Perhaps looking to put on events with commercial sponsorship might be an alternative approach that could be developed?
If you do have anything to say about these four proposals I would encourage you to get in touch with the Council. Do note however, as the report makes clear, the consideration of savings related to Luton’s libraries is excluded from this decision. Discussions about the future funding of our libraries is still ongoing and I expect the Council to start making decisions about this in the next few months.
- More on this from Luton On Sunday: ‘Cuts could hit Luton’s museums‘
This content was originally posted on my old Strange Thoughts blog.