Arts Council funding boost for South Yorkshire towns but Sheffield is not included

Today, Arts Council England has announced that Barnsley and Rotherham will be among 15 priority places in the north where they want to ‘develop new opportunities for investment’, but Sheffield is not included.

By Lloyd Bent
Thursday, 16th September 2021, 11:42 am

While Sheffield has not been included in the Arts Council’s ‘Delivery Plan’, projects in the city will be eligible for a new £1 million fund provided by South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (formerly Sheffield City Region), also announced today (September 16).

The funding for Barnsley and Rotherham comes as part of Arts Council England’s ‘Let’s Create Delivery Plan’, which arrives less than a month after The Star revealed figures which showed that the north of England receives a disproportionately small amount of national arts funding, and that parts of South Yorkshire are ‘starved’ of cultural grants compared to other areas in the north.

Since the 2017/18 year, Sheffield received less than a quarter of the Arts Council England funding that was awarded to nearby big cities Leeds and Manchester. Meanwhile, London received more than three times the funding that Yorkshire and the Humber as a whole, despite having less than double the population.

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Experience Barnsley

And while Sheffield’s funding since 2017/18 amounted to just £64.08 per head – compared to Westminster’s £956.96 and Manchester’s £273.55 – Barnsley’s and Rotherham’s was even less, at £55.08 and £25.27 per head respectively.

The Arts Council’s Delivery Plan names 54 ‘priority places’ across England. Fifteen, including Rotherham and Barnsley, are in the north. Thirty-nine are in the south. The Arts Council says it will work closely with these locations to develop new opportunities for investment, both from the Arts Council and other partners.

The strategy aims give more people the opportunity to enjoy high-quality cultural experiences in their communities.

Cllr Sir Steve Houghton CBE, leader of Barnsley Council, said: “We're proud of our quality, award-winning cultural offer in Barnsley. It's great news that we'll be working with Arts Council England to develop this further and enable more residents, visitors and communities to participate in a huge variety of cultural experiences.

Business and Intellectual Property Centre, at Sheffield's Central Library

“Culture, wellbeing and the economy are closely linked. We'll build on our cultural offer coming back strong from the pandemic, to make Barnsley a place of possibilities, where culture is embedded in all our placemaking work.”

Barnsley Council has said that culture is ‘at the heart of Barnsley’s regeneration plans’ and any funding from the Arts Council is expected to ‘help build on exciting opportunities’ provided by cultural organisations such as the Barnsley Civic, the recently developed Library at the Lightbox and the multi award-winning Barnsley Museums suite of venues which includes Experience Barnsley - which is a finalist for the Art Fund Museum of the Year Prize.

There is also potential to develop creative industries in communities across the borough, in places such as Goldthorpe which is in receipt of new Stronger Towns funding, and in historic Elsecar.

And Cllr Dave Sheppard, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Rotherham Council said: “Culture has played an enormous role in helping our communities to stay connected, recover and heal together following the pandemic, demonstrating its importance in our everyday life.

Dan Jarvis MP.

"Rotherham continues to make a strong commitment to its culture, arts and heritage offer from investing in the recent refurbishment at Rotherham Civic Theatre, to the delivery of our fantastic annual Rotherham Show and the recent investments across our library portfolio.”

The development in Rotherham is expected to focus on the town’s move to become the world’s first Children’s Capital of Culture, along with the imaginative children’s literature charity, Grimm & Co, a new £2 million Creative People and Places programme, Flux, and plans to create a new Central Library.

Pete Massey, Director, North, Arts Council England, said: “I am pleased to see [Barnsley and Rotherham] announced today as one of our 15 priority places across the North.

“There is a clear appetite for arts and culture in Barnsley, demonstrated not only by the cultural organisations and creative practitioners who work across the borough but also by Barnsley Council’s plans to put culture at the centre of its regeneration ambitions.

"Over the last few years, we have seen Rotherham start to be transformed into a cultural hub, with the work of Grimm and Co and the Creative People and Places project Flux Capacitor championing the town’s cultural offer.

"I look forward to make these aims a reality.”

Alongside the Arts Council plans for parts of the county, the arts, culture and heritage sector in South Yorkshire is set to receive a boost with the announcement from the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) of funding worth £1m.

The Fund is part of South Yorkshire’s Additional Restrictions Grant, which has so far provided South Yorkshire businesses with over £45m of support during the pandemic.This is the first time that the SYMCA has made specific funding available to the arts, culture and heritage sector in recognition of the value it has to the local economy, by creating jobs, enriching the lives of local people and reinforcing South Yorkshire’s reputation as a tourism destination.

Mayor of South Yorkshire, Dan Jarvis, said: “There is no doubt that South Yorkshire is home to a wealth of creative talent. The arts, culture and heritage sectors have been hit hard by the impact of the pandemic and investing in these areas is an essential part of their recovery and renewal.

"The fund will go a long way towards creating more sustainable communities, vibrant places and enhancing our strong local identities, as well as contributing to our economic recovery.”

The £1m funding will be managed by South Yorkshire’s local authorities, who will distribute the fund through the commissioning of cultural events, activities or projects, with some businesses potentially eligible for micro grants.