City residents oppose Arts Council’s rejection of bid

Millennium Galleries   Steve Tozer-Loft and Nathaniel
Millennium Galleries Steve Tozer-Loft and Nathaniel
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VISITORS to Sheffield’s museums and galleries have condemned the decision to slash around £4.2 million from the city’s arts budget over the next three years.

Museums Sheffield - which runs the Millennium Gallery, Graves Gallery and Weston Park Museum - lost out in its bid to the Arts Council’s Renaissance grants programme, a move chief executive Nick Dodd said would have a ‘devastating impact’.

The trust said the shock decision means a 30 per cent budget cut, 45 job losses and an end to staging major exhibitions of national and international importance.

Museums Sheffield previously received an annual sum of £800,000 under an outgoing scheme - but was unsuccessful when it put forward a case for continued funding.

Steve Tozer-Loft, 46, from Meersbrook, visiting the Millennium Gallery with sons Nathaniel, six and Reuben, 11, and wife Yo said he regularly attended Sheffield’s art galleries and museums.

Steve, a medical physicist at Weston Park Hospital, said the funding ‘snub’ was “terrible”.

“Sheffield is the country’s fourth biggest city, and for us to have no funding for three years is awful,” he said. “I think it will be a real loss for the city.

“Since the opening of the Millennium Gallery it felt like we were catching up, but with this it’s just right back to square one.”

Yo added: “Museums might have to start charging for things, and that would be dreadful.”

Lydia Newstead, a support worker from Walkley, said she thought the decision was ‘absolutely disgusting’.

“Sheffield seems to be losing out left, right and centre,” said Lydia, aged 32. “We’re one of the least-appreciated cities in the north.

“It seems that Sheffield is losing out on quite a lot of funding for a lot of things. It’s quite a pity.”

Lydia said her three-year-old stepson and one-year-old niece had enjoyed the new exhibition of Chinese art at Weston Park Museum.

“I don’t want them to grow up in a city without galleries and museums,” she added.

Inside the Millennium Gallery, friends Sharon Edmundson and Janice Lyon, from Sprotbrough in Doncaster, were enjoying a relaxing morning looking at the exhibits.

“We don’t think the cuts are a good idea,” said Sharon, 50, an educational advisor.

“The galleries and museums are lovely, and what I like about them is that anyone can walk through, look around and use the cafe.

“There’s nothing like this in Doncaster.”

College lecture Janice, 49, added: “They’re free as well - it’s really important to have that sort of access.”

Coun Roger Davison, Sheffield Council’s shadow cabinet member for growth, jobs and employment, said an appeal should be lodged against the decision to reject the bid.

“We’re going to have to appeal against the allocation of money. Museums are going to have to restrict the exhibitions they have.”