Cost-cutting puts question mark over St Andrews museum cafe

St Andrews Museum
St Andrews Museum

Plans have been revealed to severely cut St Andrews Museum’s opening hours as part of a major cost cutting exercise.

Fife Cultural Trust (FCT), who run the museum service, confirmed this week that the museum’s opening hours will be cut by 16.5 hours in the winter and 16 hours in the summer – it is currently open for 38.5 hours a week during the winter months, and 49 hours in the summer.

“We are currently in consultation with staff about how this impacts them and this process is due to be complete by the end of March 2016,” a spokesman for FCT said, “We have proposed changes that minimise the impact on staff, residents and visitors to St Andrews. FCT is committed to providing learning experiences that enhance the quality of life in Fife, through museums.”

The spokesman added: “Fife Cultural Trust (FCT) receives a management fee from Fife Council to operate museums, galleries, libraries and theatres on its behalf. As with all services in Fife Council, a savings target has been set for FCT by Fife Council. FCT therefore needs to deliver a budget saving of £813,000 by March 2018.

“As part of FCT’s financial strategy we have an agreed reduction in our opening hours at St Andrews Museum. The proposal to change the opening hours of St. Andrews Museum was suggested back in 2015 as part of a wider review of opening hours across all FCT facilities and to contribute to the savings target.”

Several exhibitions are planned for the musuem over the coming months, including a major retrospective of the work of the Glasgow Boys.

A Spirit of Rebellion will look at the evolving style of the Glasgow Boys and their impact on the art world featuring works by leading members of the group and many others associated with it, including John Lavery, E A Hornel, James Guthrie, Joseph Crawhall and Thomas Corsan Morton.

The plans to cut museum opening hours will hit its popular cafe, run by mother and daughter team Marlyn Braid and Susan Duncan.

Mrs Braid said she was extremely disappointed at the move, particularly since Fife Council had not offered to adjust their lease, despite cutting the time the cafe would be open.

And to add insult to injury Mrs Braid has been told that after having held the contract for the cafe for 24 years, from next year the contract will be put out to competitive tender.

“We are disappointed that after all this time they are changing their contract to much shorter hours and are not willing to discuss any compensation or reduction in the costs, particularly for the winter.

“Fife Council is not willing in any way to reduce the cost of the lease we pay.”

And it means that in winter months Mrs Braid will have to pay off a member of staff to be able to meet costs.

But she said that she wouldkeep the cafe open over this summer, and “see how the start of the winter goes”.