SHEFFIELD’S politicians have rallied round to lobby the Arts Council to reconsider its decision to refuse £4.2 million of funding to the city’s museums trust.
Rejection of the bid by Museums Sheffield for a share of the Arts Council’s major grants pot worth £20 million a year for the next three years comes as the trust’s existing Arts Council funding comes to an end.
The trust says it will mean an end to its ability to host national and international touring exhibitions, a 30 per cent budget cut, 45 job losses and ‘greatly reduced’ educational work.
The Arts Council’s refusal of funding comes despite it recognising Sheffield had a strong bid – and acknowledgement that Sheffield receives the lowest Arts Council funding of any major city per head of population. Under existing arrangements Sheffield gets just £4.62 per person, compared to £20.32 in Leeds.
Museums Sheffield’s chief executive, Nick Dodd, has approached Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to help appeal the decision and push for a share of £23 million a year in additional Arts Council funding yet to be handed out.
A spokesman for Mr Clegg said he has asked to meet the Arts Council to make Sheffield’s case for more funding.
The city’s Labour MPs are also contacting the Arts Council asking it to reconsider. Sheffield Central Labour MP Paul Blomfield, whose constituency includes all three of the trust’s museums, said: “I will be pressing the Arts Council about why Sheffield gets such a small share of funding.”
Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts added: “It’s extraordinary that somewhere the size of Sheffield should have no funding.”
Sheffield Visual Arts Group also attacked the Arts Council’s decision. The campaign group, formed to fight last year’s decision to cut gallery opening hours, said: “The jobs of the majority of the curators are now under threat.”
Star readers also opposed the funding snub. Paul Ibbotson said: “Why do we always have to be second best to places like Leeds and Manchester?” Chris Cliff added: “It’s a shame when we have wasted many billions on the Olympics yet rob our kids of the education of museums.”