Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Changes planned for Firepower museum

It wouldn't be a Christmas break without an unexpected interruption, and this year I've been lured away from the leftover party snacks and TV specials by a last-minute item being added to the agenda of the Council's Cabinet Committee tomorrow.

The Royal Artillery Museum in Woolwich ("Firepower") has faced significant funding difficulties for several years, and its operating deficit has been covered with support from the Royal Artillery Regiment and by Greenwich Council.

We have supported these extra cash injections, believing that the museum is an important asset to the Borough, and one which should be preserved (I raised the issue at full Council a couple of months ago when leaked papers suggested funding might be withheld). But we have been clear that the museum needs to widen its appeal and work more closely with the neighbouring Heritage Centre to develop a high-profile "heritage quarter" for the Arsenal site. My personal view is that the maritime history of Woolwich should be a key part of this, particularly with the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Dockyard coming up in 2012.

The papers for tomorrow's meeting include conditions attached to the proposed grant which would require a signifiant shake-up in the way the museum operates, including a change to the "Firepower" branding, a widening of what is on offer and closer working with the heritage centre. So along the right lines, but we need to study the details, and are more than a bit annoyed it has been rushed onto the agenda at such short notice.

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