On 1 April 2020 management of Royal Pavilion & Museums will transfer from Brighton & Hove City Council to a new charity: the Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust.

About the Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust

The Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust (RPMT) is a charitable organisation. RPMT will manage and operate the Royal Pavilion & Museums’ buildings and collections instead of Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC).

East side of Royal Pavilion, showing entrance

It will manage the museums through a 25 year contract with BHCC. The Council still owns the buildings and the collections.

RPMT has been created from the long-established and successful Royal Pavilion & Museums Foundation. This was already a charity and has supported the city’s museums since 1972. It has helped to buy many important items for the collections.

The Trust board has 16 trustees including 3 councillors. The new chair is Michael Bedingfield. 

A sustainable future

Photo of open door leading into the Elaine Evans Archaeology Gallery in Brighton Museum
Entrance to the Elaine Evans Archaeology Gallery in Brighton Museum

Becoming a Trust will protect the service and all the staff for the long term. They will continue to welcome visitors and look after collections and buildings.

It will enable our museums services to be sustainable and resilient. It will deliver the current high standards for residents and visitors.

Becoming a Trust will safeguard the future of culture and heritage currently provided by the service. The professional teams that make the museums such a success will also transfer to RPMT under their current terms and conditions.

How the Trust will be funded

Two notebooks bearing decorative images from the Royal Pavilion
Sample items from the Royal Pavilion Shop

The Trust will gain financial independence from the council. It can apply for grants unavailable to local authorities. RPMT will operate as a charity and benefit from tax relief from income such as Gift Aid.

Most of the budget will come from:

  • admission charges
  • commercial income
  • external sources such as Arts Council England
  • other bodies

It will also be dependent on some funding from BHCC.

The Trust will no longer be exposed to the budget savings that BHCC has to make every year. Nationally between 2010 and 2020 councils will have lost almost 60p in every £1 of central government funding

This loss of funding has a significant impact on arts and heritage services. The County Councils Network says: “Councils have reduced expenditure on libraries, museums, and arts by £400m in the last decade.”

Freedom to develop the service

Becoming a Trust will give staff freedom to develop and improve services. This will benefit the local community and visitors.

Royal Pavilion & Museums’ skilled staff range from customer services and outreach to conservation and curating teams.

Close details of conservator working on a small object
A conservator at work

The expertise of staff, combined with a strong fundraising track record and the knowledge and experience offered by the new trustees will contribute to the success of the Trust.

The Trust will have more freedom to develop digital services matching the needs of all visitors and residents. This opens up the collections for everyone to experience and enjoy.

Preserving the past for the future

RPMT is dedicated to preserving its historic buildings and collections. The Royal Pavilion & Museums will be even more accessible in the future. The aim is to create a stimulating and unforgettable experience for visitors. It will be an inspiring resource for those who want to explore our rich heritage in more depth.

The next steps

The Royal Pavilion & Museums service will move to the Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust from 1 April 2020.

The collections, activities and buildings will be available as they are now. Opening hours will stay the same.

The Trust will work closely with the Council. The only change will be that RPMT will now manage the buildings and collections.

There will be no staff redundancies. Staff will be legally protected under a process known as the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment ) (TUPE).

Funding opportunities

The Trust will develop alternative sources of funding such as charitable giving and sponsorship.

Gift Aid can be used to claim tax relief on donations such as admission charges. It does not cost the visitor anything but enables charities such as RPMT to claim an extra 25p for every £1 given.

Over the longer term they will develop a strong independent voice and explore a more diverse exhibition and outreach programme.

Admission charges

Pagoda on display in Royal Pavilion
Royal Collection pagoda on display in the Royal Pavilion

Admission charges until March 2021 were set in November 2018 by the Council. This was to take into account the needs of the travel trade and group bookings which are made in advance. These charges will not change when the service moves to a Trust.

Reduced rates for residents and other discounts will also remain.

RPMT will offer new kinds of tickets, such as an annual ‘pass’ that will provide value for money and more flexibility for regular visitors.

Transparency

The trustees have strong links with the city and the museums sector. They will be complemented by having elected councillors on their board.

RPMT will report its annual business and development plan to the council through the public committees.

BHCC will be able to vote at the Trust’s general meetings. When that happens the democratically elected Policy & Resources Committee will make the decision in advance. Then the Council representative at the meeting can vote in accordance with the decision of the committee.

As well as the involvement of BHCC, as a registered charity RPMT will be legally obliged to publish an annual report about its finances and activities.

All options explored

The decision to move to a Trust is the result of a long process. Options for the future of the Royal Pavilion & Museums services were discussed and explored through an independent review and the council’s public committees.

Councillors decided that we should look in detail at the case for moving to a stand-alone Trust. Over the last year we have explored in detail the business case, legal, property, marketing and digital aspects of the proposed Trust.

This process also involved museums staff. The aim was to make sure the service:

  • stays open to all
  • is able to develop for the benefit of the public
  • is accountable to residents in the city

Buildings and collections

Light purple butteryfly resting on a mesh
Butterfly from Natural Sciences collection

As a registered charity RPMT is committed to activities that support the management of the buildings and collections for public enjoyment.

The agreement between the Council and the Trust protects the collections and buildings. BHCC will still own the buildings and collections.

BHCC also has a veto as the formal legal structure of the Trust is a company limited by guarantee as well as having charitable status. The council will be a member of the company.

About the Royal Pavilion & Museums

The Royal Pavilion & Museums runs:

The service holds over a million objects in its collections, including three that are recognised to be of outstanding importance and quality under the Designation Scheme.

Royal Pavilion & Museums is a National Portfolio Organisation funded by Arts Council England. It is the lead partner in the consortium that manages the South East Museum Development serivce, which supports over 300 museums in the region.