Stay+ : heartening news from Croydon

New Croydon Council leadership seeks to repair relationship with Museums Association and Arts Council

It’s been hard these last few years to feel positive about the future of heritage and museums, so I though some good news deserved highlighting.

Last year the Conservative controlled Croydon Council decided to try and sell 24 Chinese ceramics from the Riesco Collection at Christie’s. The council had hoped that the part sale of the collection, bequeathed in trust for the people of Croydon” in 1959, would raise over £13 million. In the end only 17 items sold, leaving the council with £6-7 million after auctioneer commission.

Riesco Gallery
The Riesco gallery in Croydon Museum after the sale. 
Image © Andrew Smith

The decision to sell led to the Council resigning from the Museums Association, the Museums Association barring the authority from future membership, the Arts Council stripping Croydon of accredited museum status and the Heritage Lottery Fund warning it may attempt to retrieve previous grants.

Despite all this things now appear to be looking brighter for the people of Croydon on the culture front. Local elections last week saw the council switch to Labour with Timothy Godfrey becoming the cabinet member for Arts and Culture. Councillor Godfrey has previously made some positive sounding statements on the role of culture so I thought I’d ask him what his plans were for Croydon Museum and Heritage Service:

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The response is very encouraging:

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Whilst the damage to the integrity of the Riesco collection cannot be undone, it is heartening to find that the new council leadership understands the importance of culture and heritage and is seeking to rebuild relationships with the Museums Association and Arts Council that were so wilfully destroyed by the previous administration.

It’s not always bad news! Stay+

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