Debate on future of Novium is put back to next year

DM16112608a.jpg Observer and Gazette Business Awards presentation evening, 2016. Hospitality Tourism and Leisure - judges' recognition award to Novium Museum presented by Bradley Hackett, Network Fontwell Business Club. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160423-032815008

DM16112608a.jpg Observer and Gazette Business Awards presentation evening, 2016. Hospitality Tourism and Leisure - judges' recognition award to Novium Museum presented by Bradley Hackett, Network Fontwell Business Club. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160423-032815008

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A debate on the future of the Novium Museum has been put back as it prepares for an exhibition to honour space hero Tim Peake.

Instead of looking at the future running of its museum in October, Chichester District Council’s cabinet now plans to debate new options next February.

Earlier this year district councillors were told they were still subsidising the museum, which opened in July 2012, to the tune of £832,700 a year.

This was despite scrapping the £7 entrance fee in November 2014, as part of a bid to increase visitor numbers which led to a leap in figures from 12,252 visitors in the year before free admission to almost 50,000 the following year.

In addition, a CDC spokesman said ‘action was taken to improve the business plan in order to focus on generating income through other commercial opportunities.’

This included secondary spend in the shop, room hire, weddings at The Guildhall, education workshops and themed sleepovers. In addition, the museum was pursuing corporate sponsorship. “The changes to the business model are already yielding positive results but work continues to strengthen the museum’s commercial arm.”

But concerns over the financing of the award winning museum continued.

In March overview and scrutiny committee members heard the biggest financial headache was building depreciation, business rates and a ‘lack of widespread advocacy for the museum’.

At a secret meeting in July, CDC’s cabinet members agreed to spend £25,000 on a consultant and architect to look at further options for the future running of the museum. Officers warned the museum options ‘could affect its ongoing business’. Cabinet in February had already agreed to spend £30,000 to look at options including contracting the management out to a private contractor. But members felt their brief to consultants had not been ‘wide enough’.

They wanted the new options presented to them in October. But a CDC spokesman said they were now scheduled to go to overview and scrutiny in January and cabinet in February. The Tim Peake exhibition will launch in December.

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