London’s Cartoon Museum, run by the Cartoon Art Trust charity, has launched a fundraising appeal to help it survive, as continued closure because of the Coronavirus Pandemic restrictions means the charity is facing the very real possibility of closure.
The Cartoon Museum closed on 18th March 2020, furloughing staff, and since then, has had no income from visitor admissions, the museum shop, events or from learning workshops, in marked contrast to how the year started, after its £1 million move to a new home in Fitzrovia last July. Visitor numbers were at record levels; and the team were on course to achieve their aim of doubling annual attendance within three years.
Now, the Museum’s very future is in doubt, unless it can get support. It receives no public funding and did not qualify for the Charities Aid Foundation emergency fund, and has not had Arts Council England support, either.
The impact of the Pandemic restrictions to keep everyone safe means the Cartoon Art Trust is now budgeting for an 80 per cent cut in visitor numbers, fully expecting that it may take time on re-opening for visitors to return, be they seniors, adults, tourists, children, students and or discovering the wonderful place through a school visit.
Since 2006, the Cartoon Museum has received over 420,000 visitors since 2006 and built a nationally important collection of cartoons, comics and caricatures, and a library of 18,000 comics and books – all without regular government or local authority support. Over 50,000 children and adults have attended cartooning, comic and animation workshops and the museum receives 3,000 student visits each year.
The Museum has also uploaded and circulated their learning materials as a free downloadable resource for families to use at home and uploaded their current show, Dear Mr. Poole, at www.cartoonmuseum.org.
However, the Museum does have continuing unavoidable expenditure and the Trust are now very concerned about their ability to survive over the next few months. While hoping the National Heritage Lottery Fund will help it stay afloat, they have begun an online campaign to raise £150,000 and are hoping that friends, charitable trusts and the wider public will support them. The Cartoon Art Trust as a charity also qualifies for gift aid.
Speaking to Maxwell Museums, a site dedicated to exploring the best in museums around the globe, Museum director Joe Sullivan – who only started in the role five months ago – talked candidly about the situation – a crisis that many similar venues find themselves in.
“We didn’t expect the closure to be quite as extensive as it’s been,” he admits. “I didn’t expect visitor numbers to go downhill so quickly. We could see people losing confidence in coming to a public site, and then I think on the last day before we closed, we had five people through the door. It just dropped off a cliff.”
Now not expecting to re-open until perhaps October or November, funds raised will give the Cartoon Museum a vital lifeline until it can resume operations.