Campaign to Save the Wedgwood Museum

The Award Winning Museum in Stoke-upon-Trent is at risk of forced sale and dispersal.

 

 

 

 

 

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PARLIAMENTARY 

Minister of State, Steve Webb, responds to Parliamentary Question. Read the Hansard Record. (4th March 2012) 

Lord Flight of Worcester tabled an Oral Question in the House of Lords on 14th February. Read the Hansard Record.   

Early Day Motion 2585 main sponsor Hon. Dr Tristram Hunt MP. Please ask your MP to add their name. Email Template via the News Blog.

Hansard record of the Oral Question (and response) put down by the Earl of Clancarty. (30th November 2010) 

Hansard record of the Parliamentary Debate in Westminster Hall led by Dr Tristram Hunt MP. (19th October 2010). 

MEDIA COVERAGE

"Wedgwood Museum vows to fight to save rare collection", Li-mei Hoang, Reuters. (March 10th 2012).

1stDibs.com Reports "The Wedgwood Museum under Threat" by Helen Chislett. (7th March 2012).

The Guardian article by Dalya Alberge, "Royal Academy calls for Wedgwood Museum to be saved" (16th February 2012)

President and Council of the Royal Academy write to The Guardian. - and Minister responds - here.  (16th February 2012)

Lord Waldegrave Times article (13th February 2012)

Stephen Deuchar, ArtFund Director, letter to The Times. (9th February 2012)

Stephen Deuchar, ArtFund Director, letter to The Guardian. (9th February 2012)

"UNESCO joins campaign to save Wedgwood Museum treasures" Daily Telegraph (5th February 2012).

Simon Tait "Wedgwood Museum hit by pension debts" (4th February 2012).

"Wedgwood Museum closure condemned by UNESCO" Dalya Alberge in The Guardian  (5th February 2012).

"Wedgwood Family fight for their Family History"Daily Telegraph, (11th January 2012)

Letter from Dr Alan Wedgwood, Dr Janet Wedgwood and family, Daily Telegraph, (10th January 2012)

Victoria Lambert article "John Caudwell: 'I can't stand by and see our Wedgwood heritage shattered'"in The Daily Telegraph (24th December 2011)

Alison Wedgwood's letter to The Staffordshire Sentinel "Wedgwood Family React to news about Museum Collection" (23rd December 2011)

BBC Midlands Today segment on the Court Case - watch the clip on our YouTube Channel. (19th December 2011). 

The Guardian article by Dalya Alberge, "Wedgwood Museum faces selloff to pay £134m pension debt after court ruling". (19th December 2011)

The Guardian article by Dalya Alberge, "Wedgwood Museum faces Threat of Forced Sale" (17th November)

Sentinel letter: "Pieces of Past Must be Saved" by Alison Wedgwood (14th September 2011)

BBC Midlands Today segment on the Court Case - watch the clip on our YouTube Channel. (13th September 2011).

Sentinel article by Hon. Dr Tristram Hunt MP "Why court's Wedgwood ruling will be so important for city" (September 12th 2011)

Art and Artifice blog post "Unintended Consequences for the 'Last Man Standing': The Wedgwood Tale of Woe" by Bruce Tattersall, Barrister and Former Wedgwood Museum Curator. (12th April 2011)

Sentinel letter by Tom and Alison Wedgwood "All too familiar English Tragedy" (1st March 2011)

Sentinel article "Hearing delayed" (15th February 2011) 

A.N. Wilson's "Diary" in the Financial Times - "Agonising Saga of the Wedgwood Museum" (11th February 2011) 

Daily Telegraph opinion piece by Hon. Dr Tristram Hunt MP "A hammer blow for the peerless Wedgwood Potteries" (24th January)

Daily Telegraph article by Victoria Lambert: "Wedgwood Collection Campaign" (20th January).

BBC Midlands Today feature on the Museum and watch the clip on our YouTube Channel. (19th October 2010).

Staffordshire Sentinel "MPs raise debate over Wedgwood Museum in Parliament" (20th October 2010)

The Birmingham Post "Wedgwood Museum supporters face January judgment on its future" (8th October 2010)

Good piece in: Antiques Trade Gazette: "Wedgwood Museum under threat after £134m pension shortfall" (9th August 2010)

Staffordshire Sentinel article on the Campaign, published 27th July 2010. 

BBC: Dr Tristram Hunt  MP's  meeting with Government Ministers. (19th July 2010)

Award winning Georgian London Blog: Am I not a Man and A Brother?: The fate of the Wedgwood Museum By Lucy Inglis. (July 6th 2010)

Read the Observer article by historian Dr Tristram Hunt MP on the cultural importance of the Wedgwood Museum. (27th June 2010).


PARLIAMENTARY 

Hansard record of the Oral Question (and response) put down by the Earl of Clancarty. (30th November 2010) 

Hansard record of the Parliamentary Debate in Westminster Hall led by Dr Tristram Hunt MP. (19th October 2010). 



CAMPAIGN LETTERS

Read Dr Alan Wedgwood's excellent letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Rt. Hon. Iain Duncan Smith MP.

Read Professor Diana Donald's letterto Pensions Minister Steve Webb MP.

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High Court Judge Rules that the Wedgwood Collection Must be Sold - campaign continues.

Following the court hearing in September 2011 Judge rules that the - Wedgwood collection can be sold to meet pension liabilities. HOWEVER THE CAMPAIGN CONTINUES: Join our, Supporters List, use the campaign resources to lobby your MP and Ministers - leave a comment and spread the word.

What can supporters do to help?

Please use the links and contact details below to lobby your Member of Parliament and the responsible Ministers in Her Majesty's Government. Overseas supporters should write to the Ministers.

Write to your MP:

Search for your MP here: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/

Write to the Ministers:

Rt. Hon. Maria Miller MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media
and Sport. E-mail: maria.miller.mp@parliament.uk

Hon. Ed Vaizey MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Dept for Culture, Media and Sport. E-mail: vaizeye@parliament.uk

Rt. Hon. Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. E-mail: alambridesl@parliament.uk

Prof. Steve Webb MP, Minister for Pensions E-mail: webbs@parliament.uk 

Post: House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA 

Key points to include:


The Wedgwood Museum Predicament

The world-renowned, UNESCO recognised, Wedgwood Museum collection can be sold off.   A High Court judge ruled on 19th December 2011,  that the 10,000-piece collection is not held by the Wedgwood museum in trust, and so can be sold to pay off a claim by the government quango, the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).  New pensions legislation means any solvent organisation is liable for the entire debt of a pension fund if any of its employees are in that pension fund.   Tragically,  no one could foresee the consequences of the arcane, ill-conceived  2008 statutory instrument which meant that a separate, solvent, award winning, regional museum with  5 employees, became liable for the entire debt of a pension fund with 7,000 members.

The Wedgwood family separated out the Wedgwood collection from the Wedgwood pottery company in 1962, with the foresight that once Wedgwood became a public company, with Directors and shareholders, it would be impossible to know what might happen to the firm and its assets.  Their foresight was borne out in 2009 when Wedgwood went into administration;  but because the collection was separate, Deloittes, the administrators who handled the collapse of Waterford Wedgwood Ltd, could never get their hands on it. We all felt relieved that at least the collection was always safe. 

It is the worst possible outcome, a grave day for British history, a sad testimony of Britain's resolve to neglect, and not cherish, its internationally-significant cultural, scientific, social and industrial treasures.  Treasures that represent 250 years of the toil, craftsmanship, design and sheer genius of the people of this nation. Are we willing to let ill-thought out pensions legislation lead to the loss, forever, of an internationally important collection? The tragic answer is yes.  It is like a mouse expected to support an elephant, but inevitably the mouse gets squashed, and this time the mouse is an important piece of our history. No other country would so adhere to such arcane rules, and let quangos and technocrats run rough shod-over common sense.

But for the people of North Staffordshire, the Wedgwood descendants and all those who value our history, culture and art, it is a devastating blow. We are now faced with the ludicrous situation where we are frantically trying to raise money to buy the very pieces of history that were donated freely over 250 years by the Wedgwood family and descendants. They were donated with the intention they should be kept in perpetuity, on display for our nation to enjoy and learn from.

How much must we raise to stop the thousands of pieces of British ceramics, art, archives, private letters and details of 250 years of scientific experiments, revolutionary marketing and exquisite design, ending up in the private vaults of the ludicrously rich? It is deeply depressing our legal process can lead to such an outcome.

We urge all those who share our outrage to urgently write to their own MP and to Ed Vaizey and Jeremy Hunt, both Ministers at the Department for Culture Media and Sport.

If we do not act now, there is a real risk that this collection will be sold off - and once sold it will never return to the UK again.

The court was told the collection is worth between £11.5 million and £18 million which falls well short of the £134 million fund deficit. So even when it is sold off, there will not be any more money for the pension fund, but it will mean that the PPF will finally allow the Wedgwood Group Pension Fund to join its scheme.

Administrators will now wait to see if the Attorney General appeals against the decision.  There are no immediate plans to close the museum.

Supporters of the Museum from all around the world, and members of the family who have invested so much in it, appeal for common sense to prevail.

It was former Government Minister Jeremy Hunt himself who said 'Philanthropy is central to our vision of a thriving cultural sector'  - but what kind of signal is now being sent out that anything that we leave to the nation in good faith is not safe?  When Phoebe Wedgwood donated the Stubbs, when Ralph Vaughan Williams donated the Joshua Reynolds paintings, they intended them to be kept within a Wedgwood collection for posterity. 

The government now risks ending all philanthropy unless it shows this basic tenet of generational trust can be maintained.

Minister Ed Vaizey is on record as saying in Parliament:"It is absolutely clear from remarks of hon..Members that have already been made during this debate and I hope it will be absolutely clear from the remarks I will make in concluding the debate that none of us would like to be in this position. We are almost, as it were, walk-on parts in an obscure Dickensian novel, in which a complicated piece of legislation has the most dramatic and unforeseen consequences. Potentially, those consequences put one of the great cultural jewels of the nation under threat."

Minister, the most dramatic and unforeseen consequences really are happening. Our great cultural jewels are to be sold off. What can you do to help get us through this mess?

Read more from the Minister here.



 


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