Trust to ‘protect’ future of culture

Byre Theatre, St Andrews.
Byre Theatre, St Andrews.

CONTROVERSIAL plans that will see Fife’s libraries, museums and theatres all run by a trust have been given the green light by Fife Council.

Fife Cultural Trust will run the services instead of the local authority - saving it millions of pounds.

The move sparked debate when the plan was put before councillors at the housing and communities committee on Tuesday. It was approved - but with conditions attached.

The new trust will manage and operate libraries, arts, museums and archives on behalf of the council, as well as theatre provision currently provided by ON at Fife (Adam Smith Theatre, Rothes Halls, Lochgelly Centre and Carnegie Hall) and the Byre Theatre, St Andrews.

It will be the fourth trust to be set up in the Kingdom, joining those for sport and leisure, golf, and coast and coutryside.

Councillor Brian Goodall, chairman of the housing and communities committee and the Fife Cultural Consortium, the umbrella body for cultural planning in Fife, said: “Today’s decision will protect the future of culture and build on the strong cultural heritage that already exists in the Kingdom.

COMMITMENT

“As well as reinforcing our commitment to improving access to cultural opportunities, the Fife Cultural Trust will prove through the changing face of council services Fife is in the best possible position to tackle the challenges ahead.”

Members heard that council-owned buildings will be leased to the trust, but artefacts and art works in the museums’ collections and archives will remain in the local authority’s hands.

It is expected that Fife Cultural Trust will generate efficiency savings in the first full year of £250,000 for the council as well as a non domestic rates (NDR) saving of £389,000.

Despite a move to delay the decision, the plans were given the go-ahead, under the conditions that reports be conducted straight away on how best to deal with integrated libraries and that all councillors would be able to look at the proposals before contractual arrangements are made.