A plan which aims to secure the future of the Williamson Art Gallery and Museum has been submitted to Wirral Council by an Action Group established by Frank Field MP in December last year.

The Strategic Plan, 2014-2017, which has been drawn up in consultation with the Council, is designed to develop the Williamson as a centre for artistic excellence, as a focal point for history and heritage, and as a community asset which will contribute to the education, health and wellbeing of local people. It sets out ten strategic aims which will build upon improvements that have already been made; strengthen the Williamson’s current role in the community; and secure a sustainable future for the gallery and museum.

The future mission for the Williamson will be as ‘The Gallery and Museum that transforms lives by bringing art and heritage to life’.

The Strategic Plan has led to a decision by Wirral Council’s Cabinet to re-phase the savings proposed for the Williamson to allow more time for the Action Group to develop an alternative model for running the gallery based on a management partnership between a new charitable body and the Council. Cabinet’s decision went to full Council for consideration on 25 February.

Members of the Action Group welcomed the recent announcement on the re-phasing of the proposed savings which meant that the Williamson would lose 18 per cent rather than 55 per cent of its current budget in the next financial year (2014-15), as well as the Cabinet’s commitment to keep the gallery and museum open as a valued asset. However, the provision of adequate core funding in the medium term will be essential in order to enable the new management partnership, working with National Museums Liverpool, to develop a successful business model which can deliver the key objectives of the Strategic Plan.

Professor Robert Lee, Chairman of the Action Group, said ‘I am pleased that the Williamson will not close next year, but its future is not yet safe. This will depend on a commitment from the Council to continue to provide core funding. While we understand the difficult financial position of the Council, we will continue to press for an adequate funding base which needs to be agreed by the end of May’. Julian Treuherz, a member of the Action Group and a former Keeper of the Walker Art Gallery, said ‘The Williamson has provided artistic inspiration for Wirral residents and visitors since 1928 and we want this to continue’.

For further information, please contact Professor Robert Lee: 0151 652 8534 (h), 07985 364171 (m), w.r.lee@liverpool.ac.uk