"If The Lowry audience for 2011-12 from M7 were 100 people…none would be young people." Lowry Evaluation Report
At the Royal Legion in Ordsall last night, campaigners, culture workers and volunteers gathered to demand that Salford Council has a proper public consultation over plans to decimate heritage services in the city.
"Salford Community Leisure and Salford City Council are not having a consultation with the public over these cuts" said a UNISON heritage steward "We don't feel that it is right that no-one is asking for the public's opinion."
Proposals include Ordsall Hall being shut on Fridays to facilitate private weddings, Salford Museum and Art Gallery and Salford Local History Library closing for a further day, and at least eight heritage posts getting axed. At the public meeting representatives from each of the cut services spoke passionately about the work they do and the affect the cuts will have…
Cutting the Learning Service by one day a week will mean that school children getting educational sessions at Ordsall Hall will be turned away from the already over popular sessions.
Cutting the Memories Matter project which takes museum objects and picture packs to care homes and day centres, will mean less support for older people suffering with the onset of dementia. The meeting was told that other museums come to Salford for advice on setting up such important projects.
Cutting two part time posts at Salford Local History Library will mean it would barely function with just one member of staff and less opening hours.
A volunteer from Ordsall Hall added that there were possible proposals for volunteers to take over should the Council proposals go through.
"We will not take over any paid person's job" she said "We will not do it. They are the experts and we are just there to assist. It's not on."
The volunteers, culture workers and campaigners argued that the public had a right to know about the cuts and the social significance of the cuts, and should have the right to comment on them through a public consultation. As well as petitions that are circulating in print and online (see below) it was decided by the meeting to demand a public consultation.
A UNISON rep said that for Salford Council it should be a question of priorities…
"Over the road is The Lowry but how many people can afford to use it? And how much Council subsidy does it get?" he asked "Salford Museum and Art Gallery and Ordsall Hall are free to use. In terms of art what is their priority?"
His argument is, to some extent, borne out by an internal Lowry report, seen by the Salford Star.
The Evaluation Report on a £85,000 Arts Council funded Walkabout project in Broughton also looked at The Lowry's attraction in the area, or M7 postcode, and concluded…
"The numbers of tickets and value of tickets purchased from this area is increasing, but the numbers of young people and school groups is decreasing" it stated "The main barrier to engagement with The Lowry that the research identified was cost. Several interviewees at the Community Fun Day event said they wanted to attend events at The Lowry but could not afford the cost of transportation or tickets."
Even discount ticket sales for schools and children were decreasing, while a table showed that `If The Lowry audience for 2011-12 from M7 were 100 people… `none would be young people'.
To sign the online petition against cuts to Salford Museum and Art Gallery - click here
To sign the online petition against cuts to Ordsall Hall - click here
Printed petitions are also available - further details see Support Salford Museum Facebook group
To read previous Salford Star articles on cuts to Salford Heritage Services - click here for Salford Museum and Art Gallery and click here for Ordsall Hall