Why changes are being made to the way Bournemouth's most famous museum is run

Why changes are being made to the way Bournemouth's most famous museum is run <i>(Image: BCP Council)</i>
Why changes are being made to the way Bournemouth's most famous museum is run (Image: BCP Council)

A CHANGE to how Bournemouth’s most famous museum is run will take place ‘to ensure the survival of the facility for future generations’.

Members of BCP Council have approved changes to the governance of the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum which will see a new body operate and manage the asset.

The Russell-Cotes, with its late Victorian Grade II* listed house and internationally significant collections of paintings, ceramics and sculptures was gifted to the people of Bournemouth in 1908.

Since then, is has been held in trust by Bournemouth Borough Council and its successors, as sole trustee.

The existing pattern of governance, which has remained largely unchanged for 100 years, is a mix of local authority and charity practice.

BCP Council and the leaders of the museum now say this arrangement cannot provide adequate oversight, financial transparency or strategic leadership.

In particular there are limited opportunities to apply for significant grant funding. Sarah Newman, museum manager said: “In order for the Russell-Cotes to continue delivering the wonderful visitor experience and for us to protect our beautiful building and amazing collections, a change in the governance model is crucial.

“Over the next few years, we will be able to safeguard the museum, invest in its facilities and develop a multi-faceted, dynamic and engaging offer for all. It will enhance the position of the Russell-Cotes as the iconic cultural and heritage institution in Bournemouth.”

Speaking at a meeting of the full council earlier this month, Cllr Beverley Dunlop, portfolio holder for culture said the current arrangement was not in the best interest for the museum.

“Museums and arts shouldn’t have to compete with funding for council services”, she said.

“This will ensure the survival of the museum so it can be enjoyed by future generations.”

Despite some concerns raised by former Bournemouth councillor, Stephen Chappell during the public statement session of the meeting, members approved the changes to the governance.

This approval included externalising the operation and management, making a formal application for the charity commission for this change, establishing a corporate entity and appointing a shadow board, negotiating future years grant support and delegating authority to the head of finance, head of law and governance and chief operations officer the responsibility to determine the best financial model.