Croydon museum stripped of arts council funding

The sale of Croydon's ceramics has proven controversial Pic: Paul Hudson

The sale of Croydon’s ceramics has proven controversial Pic: Paul Hudson

The Museum of Croydon has been stripped of its Arts Council Accreditation, following the partial sale of the museum’s Riesco collection last month.

The auction of the Chinese ceramics was deemed to be in contravention of the Art Council’s Accreditation Standards.

The loss of accreditation means the museum will not be able to apply for a number of grants previously awarded by the Arts Council England, as well as from other funding bodies.

Scott Furlong, Director of the Acquisitions, Exports and Loans Unit at the Arts Council, said: “It is always greatly regrettable when we have to remove an organisation from the Accreditation Scheme, but it is equally important that we are robust in upholding the standards which underpin the Scheme and are shared by the vast majority of museums.”

“I believe that the museums sector – and wider community – will support the decision to remove Croydon Museum from the Scheme. It is of great importance that the public retains their trust in museums to look after the collections held in their name. We remain concerned that this trust may be seriously undermined if disposals from public collections are seen to be driven by financial considerations.”

Mark Taylor, director of the Museum Association, said: “We have always been in conversation with the Arts Council. Accreditation means you are a proper museum and Croydon have proved they are not, and as a result they are now in the museum wilderness. It is not the sale of the Riesco collection but the principle, and we are now pushing for Heritage Lottery Fund to refuse funding.”

The Arts Council’s Accreditation panel sets agreed standards for museums to manage their collections, with 1,800 museums participating nationwide.

Despite a campaign against the Riesco sale, Croydon Council decided to split the 230-piece collection for auction in November.

Of the 24 pieces placed for auction, just 17 sold for a total of £8.2 million – £5m below the council’s minimum target.

Croydon Museum’s accreditation was revoked on December 5, and the museum will be excluded from the scheme until 2018.

A spokesman for Croydon Council said: “We are disappointed to lose Arts Council Accreditation, however this will not alter our ability to continue providing residents of this borough with an excellent museum service. Our staff have always worked to the standards required for accreditation and it is our intention to continue this.”

The proceeds of the sale are being used to refurbish Fairfield Halls.

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