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Museum Funding Bid Rejected… But All Is Not Lost Says Councillor

Published on: 29 Oct, 2013
Updated on: 1 Nov, 2013
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The museum sign peeks out from scaffolding in place to allow conservation repairs, necessary regardless of any future expansion and renovation.

A bid for Heritage Lottery funding to renovate the Guildford museum has been rejected at the first round of assessment. But the lead councillor responsible for tourism is not giving up. The bid will now be reviewed and revised before it is resubmitted.

Cllr Jen Powell, lead councillor for tourism, said: “This is not unusual. In fact, the bid for the award winning museum in Exeter failed at the first round.”

The team overseeing the bid which, in addition to Cllr Powell, includes: Jill Draper, heritage manager, Lynn Szygenda, exhibitions and audience development officer and Chris Mansfield, head of economic development, went to the Heritage Lottery offices in London to discuss the reasons for rejection.

Cllr Powell said: “We were told that is was a good project with a good foundation and it wasn’t the refusal of the project, it was a refusal for a grant at that moment in time.”

The team were advised to consider reapplying at the regional level which awards amounts up to £2 million rather than national which can award more. It was also suggested that public consultation on the project and the role the museum would play within the town be reviewed.

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Guildford museum’s main purpose built gallery, with its glass roof to maximise natural lighting was built in 1911.

Cllr Powell continued: “So we will not be putting in exactly the same application but the idea is that in Guildford we want a museum worthy of our county town status.

“The other thing we have to realise is that we cannot just rely on the funding from the heritage lottery fund. We must also rely on Guildford museum bringing in funds.

A break down of a £4.2 million funding requirement was given in a paper presented to the council Executive in March 2012. It stated:

Indicative expenditure
Development phase £168,000
Building works £3,270,000
Fit out and fees £730,000
Activity plan £54,000
Total £4,222,000
Indicative income
Heritage Lottery Fund £2,000,000
Guildford Borough Council £1,000,000
Third party funding  £1,222,000
Total £4,222,000

Commenting on the way forward and the importance of the project, Cllr Powell added: “We have to re-assess the whole thing because we might need a slightly bigger design to give a bigger improvement and we want to look very carefully at where we can go for funding. Every possible area will be investigated. We realise that we are going to have to do quite a bit ourselves.

“The museum does now feature very highly in the council’s thinking. If we want to be the heritage hub with the castle and it’s great tower and castle grounds we need this project. To have the entrance to the museum from the castle grounds will make a huge difference for footfall.

“One purpose of our application is to make the museum a better resource to teach children. We do want to do more on the education front. It is terribly important.

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A young museum visitor beginning to learn about Guildford’s history.

“We also need to raise the profile of Guildford’s heritage, generally. I have had friends from Horsley who have told me they have never been to the castle. So obviously, we have go to do more, we have got to look at signage in the town and make better use of all our heritage buildings and definitely make sure they are well marketed.”

In a presentation given by Jill Draper to the Guildford Society in 2012, the main objectives of the project were stated as:

  • Reconfiguration of the museum to face into castle grounds
  • Showing the castle grounds as part of the castle
  • Recolonising and reusing ruined areas of Castle
  • Creation of “zones” across the site
  • Improvement of facilities for grounds and buildings
  • Facilitating the telling of Guildford’s history as a story with the castle and palace in a central role

The council aims to make a new bid for Heritage Lottery funding for the Guildford Museum project by summer 2014, although this date is still to be confirmed by the Heritage Lottery Fund. There is a three month assessment period for any bid.

Councillor Powell is soon to step down from her Executive role at Guildford Borough Council after ten years. Her portfolio always included heritage, tourism and culture. She is handing over to Cllr Gordon Jackson (Con, Pirbright).

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Responses to Museum Funding Bid Rejected… But All Is Not Lost Says Councillor

  1. Brian Holt Reply

    October 30, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    I think a entrance into the museum from the Castle Grounds is a very good idea, or better still if it is included as part of the Castle Grounds.

    There are always plenty of visitors on nice sunny days in these grounds but I have never seen anyone walking past the museum in Quarry Street. It is dead along that part of the road as there nothing for anyone to want to go along there.

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