13 November 2015

Councillors agree to explore Trust proposal to retain and improve Brighton & Hove’s Royal Pavilion and Museums

Brighton & Hove City councillors have agreed to develop a full business case for moving the Royal Pavilion and  Museums to a Trust. The decision was taken by the Economic Development and Culture Committee yesterday evening (Thursday, 12 November 2015).

Councillor Warren Morgan, chair of the economic development and culture committee, said: “We are putting forward a creative and practical solution to preserve the city’s priceless heritage in the Royal Pavilion and Museums for future generations of residents and visitors.

“By moving the Royal Pavilion and Museums into a charitable trust we would be able to retain our museums and the iconic Royal Pavilion, which has become a symbol of the city, while at the same time have much greater freedom to generate new income for managing the service. The council would still own the buildings and the collections and would represent residents’ interests on the Trust Board.

“As well as the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, the Trust would include Hove Museum & Art Gallery, Booth Museum of Natural History and Preston Manor. Once established, it would provide sustainable funding and offer the option of joining up with the Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival and the Music & Arts Service in the same Trust. Having one single organisation responsible for the whole of the Royal Pavilion Estate would open up many more opportunities to seek external funding to maintain and enhance this unique cultural asset. It would help us achieve our plans for restoring and reuniting the Royal Pavilion Estate which is vital for supporting the city’s economy.”

A fully costed proposal will be presented to the Policy & Resources Committee in January for discussion and decision.

Brighton & Hove's museums' service is one of only 23 in the country to be part of Arts Council England's Major Partner Programme and is the lead organisation for the sector across the South East, supporting 300 museums.

The museum collections include Decorative and World Art as well as Natural History, fine art, fashion, film, craft, archaeology, musical instruments, toys and local history.

More information

The Royal Pavilion and Museums (RPM) service currently receives a quarter of its direct budget from the council.

A Trust would also enable the local service to build up a fund for buildings maintenance. The current maintenance assessment for these buildings is £800,000 a year.

Taxable benefits of a Trust, which is a tried and tested model for museum services, include gift aid on admissions, business rate relief and cultural exemption on business income.

A Trust would bring together all the partners involved with the ‘Our Future City’ programme under one umbrella organisation.  The programme aims to improve the lives and chances of young people through cultural engagement and creative skills.

Read the report to the Economic Development & Culture Committee (Agenda item no 33)