Grantham Museum to raid Marks & Spencer when store closes

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MARKS & Spencer is to help Grantham Museum by allowing volunteers to strip the store of fittings when the shop closes next month.

Grantham Community Heritage Association has been told it can take over the museum next year after the county council withdraws funding at the end of March.

But with no guaranteed funding yet secure, Grantham CHA is looking at every conceivable way of saving money - including raiding Marks & Spencer.

Alastair Hawken of Grantham CHA contacted Marks & Spencer to ask if the museum can have any fittings left over when the High Street store closes next month, for use in the new museum shop.

He said: “They said they are quite willing to donate anything we need for the retail shop.

“When they close we can effectively go in and take what we like.”

While Grantham CHA has been given the green light to take over the museum, funding must still be found to ensure the long-term survival.

Courtney Finn of GCHA and Grantham Civic Society said: “In the long-term we will need the museum to be able to pay its own way.

“We are looking at membership fees and corporate memberships and other ideas. We want to avoid admission charges because we don’t want to put people off visiting the museum but we could ask for a voluntary donation or suggested donation.

“But we don’t want to cut the number of people coming in.”

One method the association has identified is a “Friends of Grantham Museum” scheme. People would pay around £10 per year which would entitle them to a personal invitation to preview exhibition launches, their name to be placed on the museum friends’ register and regular e-mails and newsletters.

The idea of “corporate” membership schemes has also been floated with the lowest level giving VIP invitations to events and the highest allowing companies to sponsor exhibitions.

To cut down costs, GCHA is also hoping to continue the “peppercorn” rent which the county council has been paying the district council in rent.

If given the go-ahead, GCHA would only pay a token rent - a pound for instance.

It is also hoped that a new shop, taking up around a quarter of the ground floor, would also be a major revenue generator.