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Harris Museum and Art Gallery changes: Jon Finch appointed to £75k a year role

Posted on - 13th September, 2015 - 8:00am | Author - | Posted in - Arts, News, Politics, Preston City Centre, Preston Council
Jon Finch says he wants to bring the Harris "into the 21st century" Pic: Tony Worrall

Jon Finch says he wants to bring the Harris “into the 21st century” Pic: Tony Worrall

The man responsible for a major overhaul of the Harris Museum and Art Gallery has been appointed.

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Jon Finch is being brought in as Preston City Council wants to “re-imagine” the museum.

Mr Finch will take on a role, thought to be £75,000-a-year, to run the museum and make it a shared enterprise between the city council and Lancashire County Council.

In March it was announced The Arts Council had put £95,000 towards the council plans for the Harris.

Mr Finch began his role in mid-August and said: ““I’m really excited to be taking the lead on this project. There is a strong message of cross Council and party support and I know the Harris is close to the hearts of many people.

“The challenge is to take the Harris into the 21st Century and provide a high quality and sustainable set of audience led services to the community of Preston.

“One of my first jobs will be talking to local people, as well as visitors to the Harris, about their vision for the future of this iconic Preston asset.”

The city council said in March at the launch of its Re-Imagining the Harris project it wants it become a cultural tourism destination and cultural hub for the city.

Mr Finch has recently returned from 15 months in Australia where he worked as a consultant on a number of restructuring projects under his cultural consultantcy Black Radley Australia.

Councillor Veronica Afrin, cabinet member for culture and leisure, said she felt they had got “the right person”.

She said: “I love the Harris – the whole building and all it offers and I’m sure others who know it feel the same.

“The Re-imagining the Harris project is vital for its future sustainability in the city and its importance to the region’s culture.

“The project board feel we have appointed the right person.”

A major funding bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund is understood to be part of the proposals for the venue, as well as calls for the opening times to be extended into the evening and further on weekends.

Who is Jon Finch?

Jon Finch

Jon Finch

His LinkedIn profile describes him as “a dynamic thinker, influencer and negotiator, with a proven track record of building a vision and delivering change at a local and national level, he has a range of cross disciplinary and transferable skills, enabling him to succeed in a variety of scenarios.”

He originally trained in the museums sector and worked for local government at Lincolnshire and Bolton Councils.

He was Head of Policy for the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) North West from 2003-2006 and worked with officers from the Harris during that time. He was CEO of MLA West Midlands from 2006-2008 and ran both the West Midlands and South West regions on behalf of the national MLA from 2009-2011.

Jon and his family recently spent 15 months in Australia and returned to the UK earlier this year. He was worked in the private sector setting up two successful consultancy companies.

What do you think of the appointment? What would you like to see happen at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery? Do you work there? Let us know in the comments below

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