PROGRESS could be made on funding a feasibility study for the future of Ilkley's Manor House Museum by the end of this month.
The New Manor House Group, a collection of around a dozen local residents with a range of artistic and cultural interests in the town, has been told there could be news about the proposed study by the end of August.
The group believes the Manor House could have a bright future in a town that already supports a wide range of cultural activities.
However, the group says Bradford Council’s decision about the feasibility study is now further delayed because Ilkley Parish Council has requested talks with Bradford and no decision about the study can be made until those talks have taken place.
The group is one of several organisations working for the future of the museum and art gallery, which could be handed over by Bradford to a community management scheme in April 2015.
The museum came under threat of being 'mothballed' earlier this year, and fears remain that Bradford Council may pull out next year, whether or not there is a community management scheme in place.
Since May, the NMH group has been lobbying for a feasibility study to find out what Ilkley residents themselves might want from their ancient museum.
The directors of Ilkley’s literature and film festivals are members of the NMH group, as are the chair of trustees for the town’s Playhouse, the curator of the Leeds Art Gallery, the chair of the Friends of the Manor House, the two organisers of the Ilkley Art Trail, a local architect, a media executive, a solicitor, a public funding specialist and a public relations expert.
Group chairman, Ruth Pitt, said: "Some of the town’s leading events and organisations are represented here, but we’re not asking to take the museum over. We just want to make sure the Manor House has a viable future once Bradford Council’s funding is withdrawn."
She added: "We feel it’s vital to stand back from the heat of debate around this building and consider carefully what local people actually want. At first the Parish Council was less than enthusiastic about the idea of a feasibility study, but following a public meeting in June and further conversations, everyone now seems to agree it’s badly needed. We’ve had wonderful support from local people. We’ve also had a number of meetings with Bradford Council, who we are lobbying to accept the feasibility plan, and they’re now highly supportive. We’re delighted about this small but significant step forward, but everyone has to pull together so that things can start happening soon."