Travesty of arts cuts in Sheffield

From: Dr Peter Cromar

Grange Crescent Road, Sheffield S11

The news that the Arts Council has turned down Sheffield’s application for £1.4m of Renaissance Major Grant Funding is a travesty.

Not only compared with the level of support offered to other cities, but more importantly in failing to recognise the major strides made by the city in encouraging and developing a vibrant cultural environment within which all of the city’s diverse communities can engage and develop their own creativity.

Sheffield’s work, in partnership with the Victoria and Albert Museum, and particularly in collaboration with the Laing Gallery, Newcastle, Norwich City Library, and the Tate has brought major exhibitions to the city, and dare I say it, shown the Tate how to put on an excellent show – in my view the “Restless Times” exhibition was far better done here than at Tate Britain!

It is not just through this programme of exhibitions that Sheffield has demonstrated its credentials as a serious player in the arts scene but also through the support for local artists and craftsmen and women through initiatives like Persistence Works and its pioneering work in supporting studios and workshops at Manor Oaks and with the Southey Owlerton Area Regeneration initiative.

That surely deserves recognition by the Arts Council if they want to be seen as promoting arts and culture as critical lifeblood within a healthy and caring society.

I hope that the Arts Council will recognise that it needs to rethink its decision and argue its case for more funding from central government, as part of a positive programme of investment for prosperity and growth, rather than distributing the crumbs from a philistine austerity agenda.

Sheffield has a critical part to play in developing that agenda, not just in terms of Museums and Arts but also through its other major attributes including the internationally acclaimed Showroom Cinema and its International Documentary Film Festival.