Hampshire museums could be run by charity under plans

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PLANS for Hampshire’s museums and galleries to be run by a charitable trust are moving forward.

Leaders at Hampshire County Council are considering proposals for the museum service to be merged with Winchester City Council to create the Hampshire Solent Cultural Trust.

Sites such as Havant Museum, Gosport Gallery and Westbury Manor Museum in Fareham are currently run by an in-house service at Hampshire County Council.

Because of grant cuts from central government, the museum service has seen its funding cut by more than a third – and more cuts could be on the way in the next five years.

A council report states: ‘This action is recommended as it represents the best opportunity to sustain public access to arts and museums services and inwards investment at a time of major financial challenge.

‘It builds upon a legacy of achievement and partnership that will enable the new trust to pursue a strong collaborative and innovative approach in securing a national profile for the Hampshire Solent “brand”.

‘It reduces dependency upon local authority funding while maximising opportunities to secure external funding and support from a wider variety of sources.’

The report states the trust could be up and running by 2016. The county council would provide a start-up grant of up to £578,000, but this would decrease over time.