Covid-19 Update

Covid-19 and its effect on the Museum
As with so many other organisations, the Covid-19 crisis and the lockdown to control its spread has had a devastating effect on the Museum’s general operation and finances.

We thought it was worth giving quite a full update of what’s happened at the Museum over the last few months and we are happy to answer any questions you might have (email us on admin@kilmartin.org, or write if that’s difficult).

Here’s a summary: In the next few days we are due to re-open our Café on a takeaway basis, but we are not able to reopen our Museum or Shop during 2020.  In response to the significant loss of income that we have experienced, the difficult decision of making some colleagues redundant has been taken.

Museum Financial Position
The Museum generates a significant proportion of its income through ticket sales, retail and café sales.  Our trading operations are very seasonal.  We make most of our income in the months between Easter and mid-August, and we use this to get us through the quiet seasons in a normal year.  Obviously this has not been a normal year.  95% of trading income will not be realised so the financial losses we will suffer this year are significant.

To mitigate against this loss, we reduced our outgoings as much as possible and put a number of staff on furlough.  But we could not furlough all the staff as some were required to work.  During lockdown, they have kept our internationally important artefact collections and artefact loans from other Museums safe, they have worked hard to keep the organisation financially stable, to pay bills, wages, claim grants and furlough payments and importantly, apply for emergency funding.

We were successful in receiving some emergency funding from Argyll and Bute Council, Scottish Government, the Charities Aid Foundation and several grants from Museums Galleries Scotland.  We are very grateful for their support, however, the emergency funding we have received does not cover all the losses.

The Museum Gallery Cannot Open in 2020
The situation have been compounded by the fact that we are not able to open the Museum Gallery under the present Scottish Government guidelines for Museum operations in the COVID-19 situation and keep visitors and staff safe.  This is a huge blow to us.

We have therefore had to take some very difficult decisions around staffing.  A number of posts have very reluctantly been made redundant.  This was absolutely necessary to keep the Charity solvent, but it is not in itself enough.

Senior staff (Museum Director/ Curator and Finance Manager) have voluntarily taken a 50% reduction in wages to ease the financial burden in the short term.  This is not a long term solution, as there the work remains to be done, and we are applying for other emergency funding to change this situation and cover other overheads.

The Café is Re-Opening !
The good news is that the café will be able to open as a takeaway and operate within maintain government guidelines.  We will have to run the operation as a very tight ship on skeleton staff however, as we’ve lost the majority of the summer trade that would normally keep the café viable in the autumn and winter months.

Please do come and support Ruth and her team if you can. As everyone knows, she makes the best cakes!  The café will opening on a trial basis to start with from 1st August 2020.  Opening times will be published on our Facebook and Twitter accounts, and written on a good, old fashioned chalk board on the roadside!

How to Access Information about the Glen and its Archaeology
Obviously with the Museum gallery having to be kept shut, folks will be looking for information about Kilmartin Glen.  They will be able to find out about the archaeological monuments and sites from our Kilmartin Glen Guidebook ‘In the Footsteps of Kings’.  This will be available for sale from the take away Café along with a selection of maps and leaflets about other things to do in the area.  Buying copies of the book will really help the museum right now too.

We are looking into other ways to provide information about our wonderful heritage – watch this space!

Education and Volunteering Restarting
During lockdown, our Education Service and all volunteering had to cease.  We are now able to re-start education activities.  Julia Hamilton, our Education Team Lead is looking at delivering schools projects either in the open air, or virtually.

Great news! Our extremely popular volunteer-led Guided Walks will restart on Wednesday 19th August! There are some new procedures and restrictions will apply.  Further details can be found here http://www.kilmartin.org/visit-us/guided-walks/.

The Shop will not Re-Open
Along with the Museum Gallery and Reception, the Museum shop will not re-open this year, so we’ll not be able to sell our usual mix of gifts and artists work unfortunately.  If you’re an artist wanting to collect work from the shop – please email admin@kilmartin.org and we’ll arrange collection.  We are a much reduced team so we ask that you bear with us.

Ring Fenced Funding
Kilmartin Museum operations, like most charities, are funded via different sources.  Some jobs at the museum are project funded and this funding cannot be used for anything else. So, this means that some folk working with us have been unaffected by the loss of income elsewhere within the organisation.

The Redevelopment Project Continues
Some of our “ring fenced” funding is used to fund the Redevelopment Project staff, and despite the challenges of having to suddenly adjust to working within the Covid-19 restrictions, they have done a tremendous job keeping the project on track.  Although there’s been a slight slippage with issues like key personnel in the design team being furloughed and everyone having to work remotely, the new museum building design has been finalised, which is great news.

There will be some delay in releasing the notice to tender for a building contract until we wait until the construction industry settles or we run the risk of tenders coming back way over budget.  We’ve had advice from multiple sources on this, including our major funders. We’re estimating currently that building works would start in March next year.

There will be overall project cost overruns as a result of this delay, so we are looking to cut costs and for additional funding at present.   As part of the cost cutting measures, we are currently looking at the plans for how we might deliver museum and education services and a café during the period of closure.

Looking to the Future with Gratitude
Kilmartin Museum is a resilient organisation and has survived previous crises, although this one is of unprecedented levels, over the last few months, we have had a huge amount of support, from funders, from the local community and from very generous individuals, for which we are very grateful.

We hope you’ll be patient with us as we get back on our feet, albeit in a reduced capacity, and hope that everyone in the community stays safe as we begin to welcome visitors back to the Glen.