Responsibility for the district’s much treasured artefacts has been handed to a newly appointed director of museums and galleries at the city council.
Jo Jones, 39, says Canterbury has an outstanding variety of historical collections, and she aims to encourage more visitors to spend more money on seeing them. Her appointment follows widespread condemnation last year of council proposals to close some museums to save money.
Now, following a comprehensive review of the service, the council’s head of culture Janice McGuinness says the authority’s approach to the attractions “has been turned on its head” and the fortunes of the museum have been revived through better presentation and marketing. Visitors numbers at the Roman Museum, for example, which was one of those under threat, are said to have risen dramatically.
The council had been tasked with slashing about £112,000 from its £900,000 budget for runnng the museums, but Mrs McGuinness said the savings had been found by other means and working with entrepreneurs like Charles Lambie, who was leading the revival of the Westgate Towers museum. Ken Reedie, who had been curator for many years, is continuing to work with the city council on the work at the Beaney in the city centre, which is undergoing extension and refurbishment.
Miss Jones studied history of art and did a postgraduate degree in museums. She has spent her career working in museums and specialises in generating visitor numbers, for which she has received a Business in Arts marketing award. She comes to Canterbury from Sefton Council, Merseyside, where she was overseeing a similar project to the Beaney. She said:
“I was attracted to the job because it was such an exciting opportunity and I am very impressed with the council’s commitment to culture.”
She said one of her aims was to boost income by opening up the museums and galleries to more commercial opportunities, including children’s parties and corporate events.
Gerry Warren, HB Gazette 23rd Jun 2011