THE council has approved proposals to provide close to £2 million over the next two years to help save three of York’s most loved museums and galleries.

The Press reported earlier this month that York Museums Trust - which runs The Castle Museum, York Art Gallery and the Yorkshire Museum - could close by January if it doesn’t find immediate financial support.

At a City of York Council executive meeting on Thursday, the councillors approved a letter of guarantee to the York Museum Trust that it would provide them with up to £1.95 million over the next two years, should it be requiresd.

The council also committed to writing to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to ask the government for additional funding to support the Trust.

And, it will reimbursement the trust for payroll costs of up to a maximum of 60 days to secure the future of the museums.

York Museums Trust said it originally planned for an income of £5.7 million this year.

But as their business model relies on 75 per cent of income coming from admissions-related and commercial trading income, the lockdown closure of their attractions led to a drastic loss of income at the very start of the peak visitor season.

The revised income projection is currently £3.1 million, leaving a shortfall of more than £2 million.

Cllr Darryl Smalley, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Communities, said: “York Museums Trust continues to make an invaluable contribution to making York such as a great place to live, work and visit. YMT is key to supporting the Council’s Tourism Marketing Strategy, having reopened the Art Gallery with free admission, reopening the Castle Museum for pre-booked tours and opening the Museum Gardens.

“As the curator of the city’s collection, a significant contributor to the city’s cultural life and tourist economy, we intend to do our best alongside York Museums Trust to secure its long-term future.”

Earlier this month, Reyahn King, Chief Executive of York Museums Trust, said: “We recognise the huge part heritage, art and culture plays in supporting York’s recovery as a tourism centre but also the importance of being open for local people to explore the spaces and collections they love.

“It is for these reasons we have reopened the majority of the sites in our care despite the fact we still face severe deficits. We hope the council will work with us to ensure we can continue to care for and share York’s important collections and buildings and play a vital part in York’s tourism economy.”

A further report will be brought to the Executive in November about YMT’s funding for 2021/22.