Rescue were concerned to hear news that Kirklees Council is proposing closing Tolson Museum, Dewsbury Museum and Red House Museum (as reported on 4 July)((http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/revealed-museums-kirklees-councils-firing-11559743)).
We have written to Councillor Graham Turner and the Rt Hon John Whitingdale. Rescue have reminded DCMS of the recent emphasis of the Culture White Paper on the wide-ranging benefits of culture in its widest sense.
In the recent Culture White Paper your department was keen to outline the social, cultural and economic benefits of culture in its broadest sense and of museums in particular. We note for example, your commitment to putting in place ‘measures to increase participation in culture among those who are currently excluded from the opportunities that culture has to offer’ (p.8) as well as your desire ‘to see increased public participation across all our cultural sectors: the arts, museums and galleries, libraries, archives and heritage’ (p.20). Elsewhere you wrote of culture as ‘strongly rooted at a local level’ (p.30) and on the subject of local museums specifically you stated that it is ‘vital they can continue to innovate and flourish’ (p.32). Such sentiments, with which we agree, can be found throughout the White Paper and, with their emphasis on the role of culture in regenerating and maintaining local communities, seem highly applicable to the case of Kirklees, which covers an area which faces very real social and economic challenges.
Our letters are below – we would urge Rescue members to make their own representations as well.