17 April 2014

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Dailies’ campaigns praised as museums saved from axe

Campaigns by three regional dailies to save popular museums on their patches from closure have won praise after their futures were secured.

The Manchester Evening News, Bradford’s Telegraph and Argus and York’s The Press all launched campaigns after the Science Museum Group said a funding deficit could force the closure of one of its three museums in the North of England.

The group said the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, the National Railway Museum in York or the National Media Museum in Bradford could face closure because of the prospect of a further 10pc cut in funding in the government’s spending review.

But the funding cut was not as large as the group feared and this week its director Ian Blatchford confirmed none of the three tourist attractions would be closed, at a Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee on Tuesday.

The Press’ campaign attracted more than 13,500 petition signatures and won praise from the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

He said: “It is good to hear that the National Railway Museum will stay open. Well done to everyone, including The Press, for campaigning to keep this important local amenity open for future generations to enjoy.”

Press news editor Gavin Aitchison said: “The minute it was announced the National Railway Museum was under threat, there was widespread outrage.

“Our readers responded magnificently to our campaign, signing the petition and spreading the word. Everyone in York is relieved that the threat has now been lifted so residents and tourists alike can continue to enjoy this fantastic museum.”

Nearly 40,000 people signed the MEN’s petition to save the city’s science museum and the paper’s campaign was backed by celebrity scientist Brian Cox.

The T&A’s petition to save the National Media Museum attracted more than 45,000 signatures and was praised by Bradford Council’s chief executive Tony Reeves for the “phenomenal response” it received.

Its campaign attracted names such as Hollywood producer Martin Scorsese, Monty Python stars Michael Palin and Terry Jones, artist David Hockney and actor John Hurt.

T&A editor Perry Austin-Clarke said: “The director of the Science Museums Group, Ian Blatchford, confirmed before the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee that – as we had feared – it was Bradford’s National Media Museum that was earmarked for closure had the 10pc funding cut gone ahead.

“I think everyone was surprised by the sheer strength of feeling the T&A’s campaign engendered: to attract more than 45,000 signatures on a petition in such a short space of time was truly remarkable and a real testament to the enthusiasm, energy and creativity our team put into making this campaign such a success.

“Saving the museum has shown that the T&A is right where it should be, at the heart of the community battling on issues that really matter to our readers.”



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