Have Your Say On The Future Of Arts, Museums and Heritage Services In Hampshire

Press Release: 21/06/2012

City Museum

ISSUED ON BEHALF OF HAMPSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL, WINCHESTER CITY COUNCIL AND SOUTHAMPTON CITY COUNCIL

Members of the public in Hampshire are being invited to have their say on proposals to create a new, independent organisation to deliver and run arts, museums and heritage services across the county.

A public consultation is underway until 31 July 2012, as part of work to explore the potential for merging Hampshire County Council’s Arts and Museums Service with Southampton City Council’s Arts and Heritage and Winchester City Council’s Museums services to deliver arts, museums and heritage services, jointly for the three organisations.

By establishing a charitable company limited by guarantee, the three Councils believe it may be possible to ensure the long term quality and resilience of these services whilst offering value for money for council taxpayers. The consultation provides a chance for existing and potential customers to have their say about this possible Fully Integrated Merger project (FIM), and feedback will inform the final decisions to be made by the local authorities this winter.

Hampshire County Council Executive Member for Culture and Recreation, Councillor Keith Chapman, said:

At a time when local government finances continue to face pressure, the merger could be an exciting longer term development to help safeguard the future of arts, museums and heritage services. A joint approach to managing our cultural assets and deploying our collective resources could also help us to become more flexible and seize new opportunities, as well as improve what’s on offer to the public.
Working together in this way would put us in an even stronger position to attract a wider variety and greater number of national exhibitions for example, which in turn would raise the profile of the County’s heritage services; increasing audiences, generating income and boosting external investment opportunities."

Southampton City Council Cabinet Member for Housing and Leisure Services, Councillor Warwick Payne, said:

We’ve worked with Hampshire County and Winchester City Councils before, and it’s always worth seeing if we can save taxpayers’ money by combining our forces so long as the quality of our services is not reduced.
We’re looking at several proposals in Southampton in regards to arts and heritage. This is one of them and I would urge residents to have their say on this important issue because it is vital that we make the right decision.”

Winchester City Council Portfolio Holder for Communities, Culture and Sport, Councillor Patricia Stallard, said:

We are still in the early stages, and we first have to explore whether there is even a viable business case for a merger, and it’s important that we ask the public for their views on the proposals as part of this process. In addition to gathering feedback from residents over the next couple of months, we will also be asking for input from members of staff from our three organisations, as well as other interested parties so that all the comments can be taken on board when our three authorities consider final proposals towards the end of this year.”

Hard copies of the questionnaire are now available at various locations across the county, including arts and museums venues, Discovery Centres and Hythe library, as well as being available for people to complete online by logging onto www.bcdponline.com/hampshire.htm 

Feedback on the FIM proposals will be collected throughout June and July.