Cash loan to museum after drop in visitors

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AN AWARD-WINNING Yorkshire museum is to get £75,000 loan from a council because of a cash shortfall.

Ryedale District Council had been asked for £150,000 by Ryedale Folk Museum but councillors decided that just £75,000 should be provided, with consideration being given to a further £75,000 in the next financial year.

The decision, taken in private by the council, made the loan subject to a charge on Crosland House, one of the historic houses on the museum’s site at Hutton-le-Hole, and the appointment of a councillor on the museum’s board.

The council also wants to see a proposed extension for the museum’s Harrison Collection completed by April 2020.

Council leader Linda Cowling said the council also called for the appointment of external marketing experts to increase visitor numbers and for an organisational review leading to the development of a long-term business plan. An action plan is to be agreed between the council and the museum.

She said councillors want “urgent and immediate” action to fund raise to minimise support needed from the council. The museum was attracting 40,000 visitors a year but there had been a fall recently, she said.

“The council recognises the importance of the museum to the district’s tourism industry and its economy, as well as the value of the wealth of heritage and culture which the museum represents, especially the important Harrison collection which could easily have gone to a London museum.”

Liberal group leader John Clark was critical of the loan, saying: “The museum should be doing the majority of its own bail-out, not taxpayers.”