Revealed: plans to create a 'cultural quarter' for Scarborough, including extending the art gallery

Scarborough Art Gallery
Scarborough Art Gallery

Scarborough could get its own "cultural quarter", among plans to merge the town's museum and cultural providers.

The Scarborough Museums Trust, which manages the borough’s art and artefact collection and the Creative Industries Centre Trust Limited, which runs the Woodend Creative Centre in the town, are to merge into one organisation.

It would lead to a boon for the economy and financial savings for the borough council, it is claimed.

Scarborough Council currently provides more than £500,000 a year to the museums trust, which looks after the authority’s “priceless” collection of more than 250,000 items based at the Rotunda Museum and Scarborough Art Gallery.

Councillors were today given a briefing on the merger with Woodend, which provides workspaces to people in the creative industries and is based next to Scarborough Art Gallery in The Crescent.

Andrew Clay has been named as the new chief executive of the joint enterprise and he told councillors that the merger was likely to be completed in August.

Mr Clay said savings had already been made by bringing its marketing and promotion in house, which also gave the organisation more control over its message.

He added that in the first year of the new joint enterprise it was hoped that it could give Scarborough Council a £150,000 rebate on its contribution.

Mr Clay said that by working together the newly merged organisation could make the borough a cultural powerhouse.

He said: “We want this to be a new beginning.

“It’s about opening up culture and creativity and making it more accessible. It is about inspiring young people.

“Almost every town and city in the UK that has embraced culture, such as Hull, Liverpool and Glasgow, have reaped economic benefits as a result. Culture is powerful if the strategy is right and Scarborough has one of the most diverse creative communities in Yorkshire.”

Mr Clay said about 50,000 people visited exhibitions or performances run by the trust last year and that was “too low”, and by better-promoting events that figure could rise.

Chairman of the trustees, Brian Davidson, said they had exciting plans to put culture at the heart of Scarborough.

He told councillors: “We want to create a cultural quarter for Scarborough at very little or no cost to this council.”

Following the merger, one of the areas that will be looked at is extending the art gallery to make better use of the town’s collection.

Mr Davidson added: “We want to have a better offering to our visitors, and we think we can do that.”

Mr Clay concluded by saying that by acting as two separate organisations, Woodend and the museums trust has “hindered” their development but he hoped that would soon be rectified.

The council will be asked to give its formal backing to the merger later this year.