Why Council Must Get Behind Heritage; Birmingham City Council Has Been Accused of Negligence When It Comes to Looking after the City's Museum Heritage. This Is the Full Text of a Letter from Ted Hiscock, Chairman of the Friends of Museums and Art Gallery to Council Leader Mike Whitby
Byline: Ted Hiscock
Dear Councillor Whitby
I write as chairman of the Friends of Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery (FBMAG) to raise with you an issue which has been exercising the members of the committee of FBMAG for some time. The committee is made up of a number of people all of whom have an interest in and a concern for the cultural life of Birmingham and particularly in the arts as exemplified in the collections owned and held in the variety of Museums and Art galleries around the city. Some of our committee members are retired people who are directly involved in organising the many and varied fund-raising activities which many of our members enjoy. Others are business and professional men and women who remain actively involved in the commercial life of Birmingham, bringing their specific knowledge and expertise to the work of FBMAG.
The issue, which is of such concern to us, is the very extended delay there has been in making a permanent appointment to the post of Assistant Director Museums and Heritage. It will be two years in May since the last post-holder moved on and that is a long time for a post at such a level to remain only temporarily filled. I am aware that there has been a restructuring of many departments taking place during that time and that the Museums Service has been located within the Directorate of Learning and Culture. However, I understand that as from April this year that Directorate will no longer exist and that as yet no final decision has been made as to the future permanent location of the Museums Service. Bearing in mind that Birmingham is the largest city in the United Kingdom after the capital with all that implies in terms of wealth, size and opportunity it is important that every part of the life of the city reflects that position and status. I know that the Birmingham Museums Service is recognised as one of the most important regional museums services in the UK. It operates at a national and international level through its exhibition, education and loans programmes which is reflected in the significant funding received from central government via the 'Renaissance in the Regions' programme and yet the future of the service remains uncertain and unclear. Such a situation must have an adverse effect on the way the city is seen from elsewhere to say nothing of the effect it must have on the talented and committed staff who work within it. …