Stowmarket: Museum expects “significant” cuts to its council grants

Tony Butler, director of the Museum of East Anglian Life, said he is expecting "significant" cuts to

Tony Butler, director of the Museum of East Anglian Life, said he is expecting "significant" cuts to its grant funding

A major Suffolk attraction could be facing “significant” cuts to its funding following council-led reviews.

The Museum of East Anglian Life receives grants from Suffolk County Council and Mid Suffolk District Council worth around £135,000 a year.

Director of the Stowmarket-based museum Tony Butler said work would have to be done to make the venue more commercially viable in light of the cuts.

“It is a challenge to finance your core running costs,” he said.

“We get subsidies from local authorities but over time that’s going down and our costs go up. So the challenge for the future is how to fundraise in a whole range of areas including efforts on generating commercial activity – developing the museum for weddings and corporate events.”

Mr Butler is set to leave his post next month after nine years in the role, during which the museum has grown from 26,000 visitors a year to about 40,000. He said many theatres and museums across the region were having to tighten their budgets.

He added “flourishing” heritage and leisure centres were needed in market towns to boost shopper numbers.

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The museum’s board is set to undertake a business review to decide the future direction for the site following his departure.

Mid Suffolk has given a £20,000 annual grant since 2004. The county council provided a £119,000 grant until it was cut by 3% last year. Mr Butler is expecting a further 5% cut from the next county council grant.

The county council said the museum was highly valued and work was being done to sustain the heritage offer in a difficult financial climate.

Final proposals for the authority’s grant will be made next year. No one from Mid Suffolk was available to comment on how its grant could be affected.