Elgin museum under threat if £44k funding bid is refused

Elgin Museum - closure threat.
Elgin Museum – closure threat.

FEARS FOR THE FUTURE of one of Moray’s best known visitor attractions are being expressed as councillors will be asked to consider a £44,500 grant bid.

The Elgin Museum has existed on the High Street for over 170 years and as such is the oldest of its kind in Scotland – however, according to supporters it could be forced to close unless funding is made available.

Members of the economic development and infrastructure committee at Moray Council will today consider a request for the funding to be split over three years. If they do so it will only be the first hurdle for the Museum’s supporters as any agreement would need to be referred to the policy and resources committee.

The funding is sought to help support a proposal by the Moray Society to develop the four-star accredited museum with a view to increasing the number of visitors it attracts. Planning and economic development manager Gordon Sutherland says in his report: “The development of visitor destinations is a Tier 3 priority for the Council.

“The plan includes maximising marketing to a wider audience with an increased offer of activities and the ability to diversify for lets such as weddings and corporate events to become more self-sustaining.

“As a result it is anticipated that the visitor numbers will increase from 10,537 to over 14,000 per year with a predicted economic impact of £1.8million for the area.

“Moray Speyside Tourism has been consulted on the application and considers that Elgin Museum’s plans fit well with the Moray Tourism Strategy and the Moray Speyside Marketing Framework, and at a national level it will support the objectives for the Focus Years, particularly the forthcoming 2016 Year of Architecture, Innovation and Design and 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.”

The Elgin Museum relies on memberships, visitor donations and contributions to remain in operation – but has found it increasingly difficult to balance its books in recent years.

Moray Society spokeswoman Dr Janet Trythall said: “There is the potential that this will be a sink-or-swim decision for us – I am anxious about what we are going to do if we do not get the funding.

“If Moray does not have a museum in its main town it does detract from what the area has to offer visitors. We appreciate the economic situation is tough, but we feel that we can give a lot back to the town through the money we hope to be given.”

Councillors will be told that while the museum is bidding for funding from such as the Heritage Lottery Fund any funding they receive from external sources would not cover core development of the attraction.