As someone who has worked in the museums and heritage sector, I am extremely concerned about the 50% cut in local council funding to the Flag Fen Museum, Art Gallery and Archaeological Site.
The budget mentions that the Conservatives voted last month that cuts of 50% are needed, but that we also need to increase commercial outlets on these sites.
However, it is very difficult to create business opportunities in the sector if attendance and public participation is reduced due to reduced opening hours. These reduced opening hours are almost certain to happen now that the Conservatives have voted for such proposals.
Now that this is almost unavoidable, we need to think carefully about how and when we open these sites and ensure that we prioritize school holidays and weekends, while retaining staff who can ensure delivery during of these open days.
None of this is desirable and we would prefer a fully staffed and fully open Museum, Art Gallery and Flag Fen. But that’s the situation we find ourselves in.
I know from practice that to organize excellent exhibitions, educational projects and presentations, it takes a number of key employees and a lot of time to develop and prepare such programs. We discovered the Bronze Age log boats several years ago at Must Farm. It is the most important archaeological area of the Bronze Age in Northern Europe.
The Flag Fen Museum and Site have not had the investment to display these ‘log boats’ and we stand to lose these amazing artifacts, found on our doorstep. These artifacts belong to and are from our city. If we don’t act quickly and invest in our culture and heritage sector, these artifacts will be lost forever to the people of Peterborough.
Flag Fen is a hugely important archaeological site that would be as beloved as Stonehenge, if it were made of stone.
As a budding city and cultural capital, we should be looking to improve the finds at Must Farm, on a site dedicated to Bronze Age finds in the city center. We need to invest in something like the Jorvick Viking Center in York which brings large numbers of visitors to its city every year.
Our museum and art gallery also need investment and development to thrive. If you reduce staff and hours, you lose dedicated professionals who have spent time developing exhibits and exhibits.
Following a conversation with the president of the Peterborough Museum Society, we discussed the need for museums and heritage sites in this city to have an independent board of trustees who can raise funds from organizations arts and heritage and develop commercial potential, but we agreed that you also need some form of public funding.
We also discussed the opening of the museum, the creation of an entrance from Boulevard Bourges into the museum, making it more accessible, as well as new extensions to the building that could help develop the exhibitions, collections and displays. .
The University of Cambridge, commenting on these cuts to our cultural sector, said these ‘proposed budget cuts will have nothing less than a devastating impact on the museum and its staff, stifling Peterborough’s ambition to become a leading cultural destination, including the city of culture in 2029-30’.
The presence of our cathedral in the heritage sector of this city is also strong. Tower Top Tours and guided tours are a gift for residents and visitors.
This winter’s illuminations on the cathedral were a delight to see and we hope there will be further events during the summer months.
A carefully constructed cathedral scheme that aligns with the ambitions of other tourist destinations would surely make Peterborough a top tourist destination in the Eastern Region.
All of this could happen. Labour, Greens and Liberal Democrats have this vision for the city of Peterborough and will champion it where we can.
We know and understand that as a university city, and as a city for our current residents and future visitors, we must become a city of ambition in the coming years. A City of Culture.
It is only this Conservative-led council and the Conservative government cuts to our city that are preventing us from achieving these ambitions.