Transition plans for Brighton’s famed Royal Pavilion, the seaside pleasure palace built by King George IV, are now in limbo due to the coronavirus crisis.
Last month it was announced the Royal Pavilion & Museums, which are currently run by Brighton and Hove City Council, would be taken over by a charitable trust April 1, but those plans have been delayed because of the current situation with COVID-19.
According to Brighton & Hove News, the new Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust (RPM Trust) asked for a delay of up to six months which was approved during a virtual council meeting on 31 March, but the transfer could possibly be delayed as long as a year.
Over the summer, the council and trustees will continue to monitor the situation and if the transfer to the RPM Trust does not happen on 1 October, plans could be delayed until 1 April 2021 if necessary.
“The council’s executive director for the economy, environment and culture Nick Hibberd said that keeping the present arrangements would protect jobs and provide security for staff who could be redeployed or furloughed,” Brighton & Hove News reported. “But it also meant that the council would foot the bill for effectively mothballing some of its main visitor attractions.”
Under the current government restrictions the Royal Pavilion & Museums, along with all other historic properties and museums in the UK, are closed until further notice. However, Hibberd said the Arts Council would be honouring a £700,000 grant for the 2020-21 financial year which started 1 April, even if doors stayed shut.
During the meeting, Hibbard said, “The only reason for delaying this transfer is due to the emergency we find ourselves in. Without the virus, we would have been ready to transfer but it seems to make sense to delay the transfer until we can ensure the trust will be a success.”
When the new RPM Trust takes over it will run the Royal Pavilion, Brighton Museum, Hove Museum, Preston Manor and the Booth Museum. The RPM Trust will manage the museums through a 25-year contract with the council, which will still own the buildings.
Led by chair Michael Bedingfield, who also serves as a trustee of Martlets Hospice and Three Score Dance, the group of 16 trustees includes three Brighton & Hove City Councillors. In a press release about the transfer, Bedingfield said:
“Growing up in Brighton and Hove, I have vivid memories of visiting the Royal Pavilion and the museums with my family. I am proud to be the new chairman of the RPM Trust. From my time on the shadow board, I know many of the team and I am delighted to be joining such an inspiring professional group.”