Piermaster's House and National Conservation Centre could be axed in Liverpool by October

By Culture24 Staff | 10 August 2010
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A photo of a brick house

Sudley House (above) could switch to seasonal opening times as other venues are axed in a bid by National Museums Liverpool to cope with uncompromising government cuts

Two major historic sites in Liverpool could close within months as heritage planners battle to save jobs in the city’s cultural sector.

Piermaster’s House, the Victorian dockyard homage to Liverpool’s Second World War Maritime history, and the National Conservation Centre, which has cared for artefacts held by the city’s impressive roster of museums for 14 years, look likely to shut in October as National Museums Liverpool prepares to have its government funding slashed.

“We are dismayed by having to consider these steps,” said NML Director David Fleming.

“However, we have to provide as cost-effective a public offer as we can, in line with government requirements, while also safeguarding jobs.

“The entire public sector is facing massive cuts, with more promised in the autumn, and we have been working hard to plan and prepare as best we can for bad news.

“After reviewing visitor figures and things like energy costs, we simply cannot afford to keep all of our venues open on current budget predictions.

The group currently receives 95% of its funding from government sources, but has been warned to expect cuts of at least 30%.

Schemes such as the Find Your Talent programme, which gave thousands of local young people from disadvantaged backgrounds cultural opportunities, have already been axed, and plans for a new Titanic gallery are being scaled down.

Offices in Dale Street, the headquarters for most of the organisation’s staff, will be put on the market and replaced by the National Conservation Centre building.

“We understand how disappointing this will be for the hundreds of thousands of visitors who have enjoyed both the National Conservation Centre and Piermaster’s House, but these potential closures represent what happens when public funding is cut.

“The decisions we are having to make in the short term are designed to give us enough flexibility to meet future challenges. We are working closely with employees and unions during this extremely difficult period.”

Dale Street offices, which house most of National Museums Liverpool’s staff, is set to be sold, with employees transferred to the National Conservation Centre.

Sudley House, the decadent home of former Liverpool ship owner George Holt’s merchant art collection, is also expected to switch to limited seasonal opening hours between April and October.

“We understand how disappointing this will be for hundreds of thousands of visitors,” added Fleming.

“These potential closures represent what happens when public funding is cut.

“We need to make difficult decisions like this to safeguard jobs as far as we can, and to continue to offer world class museums to our visitors. We will be looking at other areas where we can make further savings.”

NML Chairman Professor Phil Redmond said the body needed to plan ahead for changes which “cannot be implemented overnight.”

“While these actions are regrettable, we feel it prudent to prepare staff and public for the realities we could face,” he argued.

“Hopefully our current negotiations with the government may mean that not all of these measures will be necessary.”

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