Museums’ call for volunteer support

Bankfield Museum, Boothtown
Bankfield Museum, Boothtown

CALDERDALE museums might have to rely more on entrance fees and volunteers in future, according to the latest planning document.

But exhibits would be used more to promote the area, possibly being loaned out for community exhibitions.

“The strategy aims to achieve the necessary savings with minimum impact on performance and the visitor experience,” according to Calderdale Council’s community services director Robin Tuddenham.

“We must strike a balance between any gains from increased charges or other income generating schemes against ensuring continued access to the collections for everyone.”

Commenting on the new museums and galleries blueprint, Mr Tuddenham said museum charges and merchandise must provide value for money for paying customers.

Just over 105,000 people visited Calderdale museums last year – equivalent to half the local population.

At least 40 per cent of the visitors were Calderdale residents and most were under 16 or over 45.

Nearly 45,000 people used the internet to access museum services.

A complete review of museum opening hours should be completed before Christmas with the aim of saving £50,000.

The museum and gallery strategy also says the tourism value of the collections could be exploited more and the increased use of volunteers would widen community involvement.

It is proposed to appoint a volunteer coordinator within the museum service before March next year and to develop a scheme enabling people to “adopt an object” and help pay for its upkeep.

New learning resources for children and young people should be in place by next summer, according to Mr Tuddenham, along with the volunteering strategy.

There are five main museums in Calderdale: Shibden Hall, Bankfield and the Piece Hall, in Halifax, Heptonstall and the Smith Art Gallery, Brighouse.

Recently, councillors agreed to transfer the bulk of Calderdale’s museum artifacts which are held in storage to Spring Hall, Halifax, where about £100,000 will be spent on converting a former gymnasium.

That should be ready for use by Christmas 2012, according to Mr Tuddenham in a report to the council’s communities panel.