Since I became involved in the Executive and running of Brixham Heritage Museum in 1997, seventeen years ago, there have been many changes, most for the good, but one item which has not changed is the perpetual worry of paying the bills. The bills which involve insurance of the collection, the utilities and wages, all of which increase each year.
The ‘Museum’ has been able to improve its presentation to visitors by the availability of grants, which I have said many times before can only be used for the specific reason for the application.
These types of grants were not available 17 years ago, so at that time the Museum’s “coat had to be cut according to its cloth” and it is still the same today, more so, because of the real probability of grants from Torbay Council ceasing within 3 years.
The only way to increase the income of the Museum is to raise both the membership and visitors entrance fees and this obviously will be most unpopular. But it must be done in the very near future, if Brixham Heritage Museum is to survive.
The Museum’s finances, which are difficult to handle, have been managed incredibly efficiently by several past Treasurers, none more so than the present retiring Treasurer, John Parr. Not once in the history of the Museum has the finances gone into the red and never has the Museum had to be bailed out of debt. The Museum is a wellrun “business” and this is recognised by the Arts Council, who have recently become involved with the Torbay Museums.
BUT, again, as I have said many times, the Museum must become totally selfsufficient and now it has to be sooner rather than later.
It was hoped that a grant to purchase the Brixham Cavern might have been forthcoming and this would have enabled the Museum to become involved. The Brixham heritage inside those caves is of great archaeological importance, not only locally but worldwide, but a grant was not possible, so other means of income will have to be found.
The improvement of the Museum’s facilities is down to a large group of volunteers who are prepared to give up a tremendous amount of their spare time to improving the building and its displays, and again, as I’ve said before, the Museum grows on you and becomes part of your existence, as it has been to me over the last 20 years since I first became a member, starting as a “lowly” steward and finishing as Chairman.
I shall miss the Museum, but if everyone continues to pull together as they have in the past, then Brixham Heritage Museum will survive and be a credit to the town of Brixham – and Torbay.