Covid-19: Stars back ‘under threat’ People’s History Museum

This article was first published by the BBC.

Stars including Sir Ian McKellen, Melvyn Bragg and Julie Hesmondhalgh are backing a campaign to secure the future of an at risk museum due to Covid-19.

The People’s History Museum (PHM) in Manchester said it has lost more than £200,000 since England’s first lockdown in March and costs £900 per day to run.

Writer and broadcaster Bragg said it was one of the country’s most important museums as “it tells the story of us”.

A crowdfunding page to cover essential costs has raised over £10,000.

The PHM is the national museum of democracy which tells the story of its development in Britain.

Director Katy Ashton said despite little revenue from visitors because of Covid restrictions since March it has developed its online offer and still continued “groundbreaking work” on issues like the pandemic, Black Lives Matter and Brexit.

She said it had dramatically cut outgoings but it still faced an uncertain future as it costs £900 a day to run.

Former Coronation Street star Hesmondhalgh said it was her “favourite museum” which “deals with ordinary people and our struggles”.

She said it was the “jewel in the crown of Manchester’s culture… and we mustn’t let it go”.

The actress played Hayley Cropper, the ITV soap’s first transgender character, and she said she was “so excited” the museum included Hayley’s red raincoat in its exhibition Never Going Underground: The Fight for LGBT+ Rights.

Bragg said: “It tells the story of us – 97% of the people in this country and their fight over centuries for their rights; for democratic rights, for voting rights, for the equality of women, for trade union rights to give everyone in this country the entitlement to live their life as full as possible.”

The museum said actor Sir Ian – star of the X-Men and Lord of the Rings films – urged people to support it along with Maxine Peake.

“We need places like PHM that look after that history and preserve it for future generations,” the actress said.

The PHM has been in Manchester for 30 years, having been at its current site in Spinningfields since 2010.