THE new Labour administration on Sheffield City Council has pledged £80,000 to restore opening hours to museums and art galleries which had been reduced earlier this year as part of budget cuts.
The extra funding will pay for an extra 30 hours a week to be spread between the Millennium Gallery, Weston Park Museum and Graves Gallery
Since Labour won back control of the city council, talks have taken place with Museums Sheffield to find practical solutions and the funding to claw back the reduction in hours at the three venues which had been implemented in the wake of a 12% cut of £279,000 in the grant to the trust.
It was seen as important that the attractions should be enjoyed in high demand times by visitors from within and outside the city and school children on educational tours and clubs.
The 30 extra hours per week are planned to come into effect from July 1 when the Millennium Gallery will go back to being open from 10am to 5pm rather than a 4pm closing from Monday to Saturday as will Weston Park Museum which is currently closing at 3pm. However the reduction of one hour in Sunday opening at both sites will continue at 11am to 4pm.
The Graves Gallery (which accounted for only 5% of Museums Sheffield footfall) was the most severely affected and at one time was threatened with closure. Under the new measures it will be back open an extra day, Wednesdays, but at the same restricted hours as on Thursdays and Fridays from 10am to 2pm and Saturdays, 11am to 3pm
Museums Sheffield have argued that a knock-on effect of the loss of hours was to reduce revenue opportunities through their shops and cafes
Coun Helen Mirfin-Boukouris, Cabinet Member for Business, Jobs and Growth, said: “It has not been easy to find a solution to having less funds but we have shared the desire to keep these venues open longer. We believe we have found the workable approach by modelling hours that are most popular with visitors and meet demand. I’d like to thank everyone involved for their support and look forward to seeing more people being able to visit our cultural and artistic flagships,” she said.
Nick Dodd, Chief Executive of Museums Sheffield, added: “I am delighted and grateful that the new administration has been able to fulfil its pledge to increase our opening hours. This will have a direct benefit for families, schools and the people of Sheffield, 1.25 million of whom visited us last year.
“We look forward to implementing the changes from July 1.”