The Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust are celebrating one year as an independent charity after the transfer of the management of the venues and collections from Brighton & Hove City Council today. (1 Oct 2021)
In one of the toughest years in recent history thanks to the Covid pandemic, the Trust took over running of the Royal Pavilion and four other museums with the buildings closing within a month due to the second lockdown.
Despite facing a tough financial future, the Trust are proud of the continued online service offered during the lockdowns and the successful reopening of all the venues under covid conditions.
Highlights of the year have included a highly successful exhibition of photographs of David Bowie by his childhood friend Geoff MacCormack, the continued exhibition of exquisite items on loan from HM The Queen in the Royal Pavilion and Richard Slee: Mantelpiece Observations showing new works by the master ceramicist at Hove Museum.
In addition, staff worked throughout the pandemic providing a host of fun activities such as online jigsaws, drawing sessions, virtual tours and fascinating articles about art and history to bring the museums into homes when they could not open.
RPMT is now managed by a new board of trustees and the day-to-day running is by new CEO Hedley Swain who started in November 2020. The trust will manage the museums which include the Royal Pavilion and Garden, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, Hove Museum & Art Gallery, Preston Manor and The Booth Museum of Natural History through a 25-year contract with BHCC. The Council still owns the buildings and the collections.
Hedley Swain CEO said: “After such a difficulty year for everyone, this feels like a major landmark. I am so grateful to our staff, trustees, stakeholders and friends including Arts Council England and Brighton & Hove City Council for the support they have given us in our first year. We would not be here without them. It is lovely that we are now doing what we were always meant to do – making sure the Royal Pavilion and Brighton and Hove’s museums are fully open, welcoming visitors and making a really positive difference to the city.”
Chair of RPMT Michael Bedingfield said: “The past year has been tough but also brought unexpected benefits. Thanks to the work of our teams, we have reached more people than ever before through our fantastic digital content.
“It is great to feel the buzz around Brighton & Hove now that everything is opening up again. We are looking forward to a fantastic Christmas this year with our gorgeous Christmas decorations at the Royal Pavilion and the return of the ice-rink on the East Lawns.”
Reduced rates for residents and other discounts also remain. RPMT now offers new kinds of tickets, such as an annual ‘pass’ that provides better value for money and more flexibility for regular visitors.
RPMT received funding from ACE thanks to the Covid Recovery Fund set up by the government to help major arts and culture organisations survive the pandemic. However, with visitors’ numbers still extremely reduced, the Trust are looking to fundraise to enable their work to continue. You can help by donating, become a Patron or a Member.