LEADING lights in the world of culture today criticised the £4.2m funding blow dealt to Museums Sheffield – and said they were ‘inspired’ by the service.
Sheffield artist Pete McKee, city musician Jon McClure and author Wendy Holden, of Matlock, said the move to refuse a £4.2 million Arts Council grant would impact on education as the museums’ current funding runs out.
The decision has put 45 jobs at risk, equates to a 30 per cent budget cut and means an end to touring major exhibitions in the city.
Pete said: “It’s an outrage that Sheffield has lost out again when it comes to Government funding. We seem to be this invisible city.
“It’s an insult to the people of Sheffield and children.
“I wouldn’t have become an artist if it wasn’t for the Graves gallery and Weston Park because they held exhibitions that I was taken to by my dad that inspired me.”
Jon, lead singer and frontman of the band Reverend and The Makers - added: “We don’t want to be some regional backwater. This has always been an artistic city.
“I don’t know why we always seem to carry the can, they always seem to cut funding in places like Sheffield. That’s a shame because Sheffield is an up-and-coming city.
“It won’t be the same for future generations. I find it really inspiring as a musician, as artists do, to look at art.”
Cuts to museums ‘wound’ the community, added Wendy Holden. She said: “They are a false economy as cultural assets are proven to boost a city’s status and financial well-being.
“The Graves Art Gallery in particular has some world-class works. It offers not only a free educational resource but the opportunity for people of all ages to take time out to enrich themselves.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg has written to the Arts Council requesting ‘urgent talks’ about whether alternative support from £69m of unallocated grants can be given.
City Labour MPs are querying why Sheffield has the least funding of any large UK city per head of population, less than a quarter of the support given to Leeds.
Dan Jarvis, Labour shadow culture minister and Barnsley Central MP, is the latest to back the drive and said the decision was ‘very disappointing’ for South Yorkshire.
The timing of the announcement gave Museums Sheffield just weeks to produce a new plan.
He added: “Sheffield is one of the UK’s culture capitals and the funding could have been used to build on the cultural legacy of the past decade.”