Museums’ cash crisis meeting

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REPRESENTATIVES from Museums Sheffield met officials from the Arts Council to discuss bidding for alternative cash after a bid for £4.2 million was controversially turned down.

The trust, which runs the city’s museums, said it had been ‘overwhelmed’ with support from members of the public who are concerned about its plight.

Museums Sheffield, which runs the Millennium Galleries, Graves Gallery and Weston Park Museum, learned last week it had been unsuccessful in becoming one of 16 centres of excellence funded by the Arts Council.

Cash totalling £20 million per year was available for the next three years, and Museums Sheffield had asked for an annual share of £1.4 million.

An existing £800,000 annual grant from the Arts Council also ends in March.

Without alternative funding, Museums Sheffield will lose a third of its budget, putting 45 jobs, educational work and its ability to host major exhibitions at risk.

The meeting yesterday was held to discuss whether Museums Sheffield could receive a share of funding worth £23 million each year for the next three years, which has not yet been allocated by the Arts Council.

The Arts Council awards Sheffield the lowest level of grants of any major city in Britain.

A Museums Sheffield spokesman said: “We met the Arts Council Yorkshire for initial discussions on the crisis.”

Discussions were about the bid process, ‘transitional’ funding to wind down activities, and access to outstanding funding.

An announcement will be made by the Arts Council about the unallocated cash in the autumn.

The trust’s voluntary board of trustees are gathering for a follow-up meeting today.

The spokesman added Museums Sheffield had been ‘overwhelmed’ with support from the public, which ‘continues to flood in’.

Backing the trust are Sheffield’s Labour MPs and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Dozens of people have left comments on Museums Sheffield’s website.

Artist Kid Acne, whose hugely successful Kill Your Darlings exhibition went on show at the Millennium Gallery last year has written to the Arts Council urging it to reconsider.

There has also been support on Facebook and Twitter, including from Heaven 17’s Martyn Ware.

Other backers include artist Pete McKee, singer Jon McClure and Suzanne Liversidge, president of Sheffield of Chamber of Commerce.

Another supporter Jo Brown said: “I am shocked and saddened by the short-sightedness of the Arts Council in withdrawing funding from Museums Sheffield. The city’s vibrant cultural life could not be more deserving of this support, and it is to be hoped the situation will be reviewed.”

Catherine Carley said: “The Arts Council has effectively killed off a major part of this city’s cultural life.”