Deal may ease financial pressure on museums

HOPES rose this week of a financial deal that could allow Sheffield to continue hosting some major touring exhibitions and preserve more of its current work.

Talks were held between Museums Sheffield and the Arts Council in the wake of the outcry over the Council’s rejection of a bid for £1.4m a year over the next three years.

Negotiations are thought to centre on Sheffield receiving £500,000 a year over three years from September, which would ease some of the pressure.

Museums Sheffield chief executive Nick Dodd said the meeting was primarily to discuss transitional funding, which would allow exhibition programme commitments to be honoured over the next six months.

“In the next fortnight we hope to receive confirmation of the level of transitional funding we can expect. At present, Museums Sheffield faces having to make 45 redundancies.

“Significant transitional funding will allow us to maintain aspects of the public service while we go through the restructuring process and leave us better equipped to bid for the Arts Council’s Strategic Support Funding, which will become available in September.”

While this could not replace the level of funding that would have been available through the Major Grants Programme, “it could allow us to develop a sustainable exhibitions and education programme”, said Mr Dodd.

Deputy Prime Minister and Hallam MP Nick Clegg pressed the case for Sheffield museums and galleries in a meeting with the Arts Council, and said he hoped to “see real progress soon”.

He added: “I am confident that the Arts Council now recognises the urgent need to reassure residents in Sheffield that appropriate funding will be in place to support our museums on an ongoing and sustainable basis.”

Protesters say Sheffield is due to receive the lowest Arts Council funding of any large city.