GRAVES Art Gallery will not be shut, mothballed or moved, Sheffield Council pledged today - after outraged protests from celebrities, artists and politicians.
In a victory for people power, leader Paul Scriven promised: “Graves Gallery will not be closed, nor will it be moving sites.”
The news of possible closure horrified leading lights of the city’s arts and cultural scene when it was first raised last week.
Monty Python legend Michael Palin, singer Richard Hawley, artists Pete McKee and Joe Scarborough, crime novelist Simon Beckett, and political grandee Roy Hattersley all slammed the plans.
Mr Palin said he could think of “nothing worse” than closing a gallery which brought “a little magic into lives” and Baron Hattersley, the city born-and-bred former deputy leader of the Labour Party, said its loss would be “a travesty”.
Museums Sheffield, which manages the city’s museums and galleries, was considering closure as one option to help absorb a £328,000 cut to its £2.3 million annual council grant.
Graves was created on the top floor of the Central Library on Surrey Street after the philanthropist Alderman J G Graves requested a gallery should be included in the building as a condition of his funding its construction.
Today it houses a treasured collection of paintings and other items bequeathed to the people of Sheffield.
Coun Scriven said: “We will not accept a proposal to close Graves Art Gallery. We will be sitting down with the trust and the option will be formally ruled out.
“The council will work with Museums Sheffield to deal with the issues they are facing. But Graves Art Gallery has been open since 1934, there is no way we will allow one of our long-standing cultural gems to close.”
He added: “Closure of the gallery was not our idea and we have been working on alternative solutions to ensure the trust can balance the books.
“Graves Gallery will not be closed or move site.”
His pledge comes just three days after his cabinet member for culture, sport and tourism, Coun Roger Davison, claimed the Central Library building was “not fit for purpose”.
Sandra Newton, chair of Museums Sheffield, said: “I am very pleased the council recognises the deep affection the people of the city have for the Graves Gallery. Closure of the Graves would be a great loss to Sheffield.”