Verdict on £970,000 Sheffield arts council bid expected within weeks

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Sheffield could be in line for a multi-million pound cultural boost as a city gallery bids for £970,000 in Arts Council funding.

The Site Gallery, on Brown Street, wants to use the money to more than double in size, creating a new participation area, more café space, room for events and a shop.

The overall project will cost £1.7 million, while Sheffield City Council has committed £125,000 in match funding.

Bosses intend to find the rest of the money through fundraising, trusts and foundations.

Judith Harry, the Site Gallery’s executive director, said the team had their ‘fingers crossed’ the Arts Council’s final decision - expected in around six weeks - would be positive.

And Paul Billington, the council’s director of culture and environment, said it was a ‘boost for the economy and the arts’.

Ms Harry said: “There would be a threefold increase in our public offer.

“We would improve the exhibition space and the quality of the environment for the public.

“We’re quietly optimistic but at the same time we know the Arts Council has got £50m to spend in capital, and it’s probably had £200m worth of bids. We’ve got our fingers crossed.”

Mr Billington said: “The city council is prepared to support projects that have the potential of bringing major external investment into the city.

“This is the case with our funding of new sports facilities and also with our match funding for the Lyceum Theatre refurbishment.”

Earlier this year Sheffield Theatres was awarded £1m by the Arts Council for an upgrade of the Lyceum, to attract more touring productions.

Mr Billington added: “In the case of the Site Gallery, for every £1 pledged by the council, we have the potential to draw down more than £12 of additional investment.

“We also, of course, have the opportunity to further develop one of our leading arts organisations.

“So, a boost for the economy and a boost for the arts.”

The application asks the Arts Council for funding of £970,000 to extend the gallery by annexing an adjoining unit which will increase the space by 230 per cent.

This will include a new participation space, increased café space, events space, business lets and a shop. The project will be managed by the Site Gallery in partnership with the council.

The gallery, in Sheffield’s Cultural Industries Quarter, specialises in multimedia- based art and also houses an Imaging Innovation Lab used for still and moving image -making.

It started life as an independent photography gallery in Walkley in 1978. Since 1995, it has expanded its programme to incorporate new and experimental work. Patrons include Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker.