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Statement - Stoke-on-Trent Museums

Published: Saturday, 8th January 2022

Commenting on recent inaccurate reports about the Gladstone Museum and Potteries Museum and Art Gallery...

Cllr Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “It is simply not true that Gladstone Museum and Potteries Museum and Art Gallery are closing, nor that all staff have been sacked.

“Through our budget setting process, a consultation is underway on proposals that will support the required modernisation of the museums service. The proposal is to create a single team to work across both museums, building on the expertise and skills that are already in place. Both museums will open 5-days a week (Wednesday to Sunday) with both having availability for events and other special activities 7-days a week. Gladstone Pottery Museum will open to the general public between April and October. Between November and March Gladstone Pottery Museum will be closed for flagship tv broadcast production commitments, and will be available for venue hire and a range of events and other activities. 

“These proposals support the continued transformation of the city’s museum and wider cultural offer, enhancing our celebrated collections and exhibitions which attract local families and residents and international visitors to the city. If agreed, the proposals will allow us to offer a more flexible service to meet the ever-changing consumer and commercial use of museums within Stoke-on-Trent, while still recognising our custodial responsibility for our wonderful collections, through the continued application of curatorial expertise.

“This affirms our commitment to Stoke-on-Trent as the world-leader in ceramics building on our support in this area through our investment in the British Ceramics Biennial. We are immensely proud to be stewards of the world’s largest collection of Staffordshire Ceramics, with our ability to give free access to unique, invaluable collections from all the major North Staffordshire factories as well as artistic masterpieces from the likes of Doulton, Ruskin and Pilkington, including the only one of Wedgwood’s First Day vases that are on public display. We will continue to take this responsibility most seriously.

“In our City Prospectus we emphasised our commitment to culture and heritage as crucial building blocks for the regeneration of this city. Our track record backs up that commitment, whether that is through regenerating our iconic town halls in Stoke, Tunstall and Longton and our successful bids for Heritage Action Zone status, to our applications to become City of Culture 2021 and as a Channel 4 regional centre, to name but a few.

“We are an Arts Council England Priority Place and part of the Historic England Heritage High Street initiative. We have embraced creativity in use and enhancement of our heritage including hosting the Poppies: Weeping Window at Middleport Pottery in 2018, the Light Night in Burslem in 2019 and the recent restoration of Hanley Park. Even through the pandemic we have continued to bring culture to the city including Jimmy Cauty’s ‘Estate’ with Air Space Gallery and Art Slam and the Big Feast with Appetite. We are also set to host the forthcoming Knife Angel, the contemporary sculpture to help educate people about knife crime.

“The outstanding new Spitfire Gallery opened at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in September 2021 following £5.4million of investment in the site. It sets the standard for the development and investment into our heritage sites and demonstrates that any idea that we would want to diminish the gallery’s offer is wholly misconceived. Our heritage is incredibly important, and we are using this as a platform for further investment to provide a better cultural and commercial offering, leading to more opportunities for local people.

“The new venue and events programme will build on the successful opening of the new gallery. Gladstone Pottery Museum will also continue to be available as a venue for a wide range of activities celebrating ceramics and its wider history as one of the most well-known pottery factories. These will include its use as a location for filming building on its success in recent years - including for the recent Sky film The Colour Room about renowned artist Clarice Cliff - civil ceremonies and life events, courses including in ceramics, seasonal events and a wide range of other activities that will be developed in future months. Violet’s café at Potteries Museum and Art Gallery and the new Courtyard Café at Gladstone will also allow us to generate additional income across both sites.  

“The pandemic has changed the way people use our services like never before. We continue to invest in transforming the way we operate to meet the evolving demands of people in our city and it is appropriate that we do this. Demonstrating excellent stewardship is also about using our resources efficiently and these proposals will offer better value for money for the local tax payer.

“We now want to hear people’s views on the proposals we’ve published.”

The full budget proposals are at: www.stoke.gov.uk/budget2022.

People can give their views in the following ways: budgetconsultation@stoke.gov.uk, twitter.com/sotcitycouncil, facebook.com/sotcitycouncil or write to us at Budget 2022, Civic Centre, Glebe Street, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 1HH.

*Updated 10 January to include the Air Space Gallery*