Art gallery survives as cuts are reduced

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Reduced opening hours will be brought in at Sheffield’s museums and galleries but there will be no closures - despite a hefty cut in council funding.

In February, the closure of Graves Art Gallery was raised as a possibility after Sheffield Council announced management trust Museums Sheffield would lose £328,000, or 15 per cent, of its budget in 2011/12.

But, following a public outcry and discussions between the trust and council leadership, it has been agreed to reduce the cut to £279,000, or 12 per cent.

Nick Dodd, chief executive of Museums Sheffield, said: “We have agreed a plan that keeps all the museums and galleries open. We have achieved this by removing the opening hours from when we have fewest visits.

“We will still provide opening for schools and when the public most want to visit on half terms and bank holidays. We hope that this will be a temporary measure reversible when the economic climate eases. “Sadly, because the opening hours are declining we are looking at a number of posts being made redundant. We know that this will be felt particularly deeply amongst our close-knit team and we would like to thank all our colleagues for their tremendous contribution to our work.”

The changes, being implemented from Monday, May 2, mean Graves Gallery will only open three days a week, from 10am until 2pm Thursdays and Fridays, and 11am to 3pm on Saturdays.

School visits to Graves will continue.

The Millennium Gallery will be open from 10am to 4pm, with exhibitions open 11am to 4pm, plus extra hours at Christmas, half term and bank holidays.

Weston Park Museum will be open 10am to 3pm Mondays to Fridays and 11am to 4pm Saturdays and Sundays, with extra hours at half term and bank holidays.

Bishops’ House will be open Monday to Friday for pre-booked groups only. Museums Sheffield will continue to open the historic building at weekends during April to give members of the Friends of Bishops’ House time to recruit enough volunteers to open the building to the public. Its management will be returned to Sheffield Council.

The trust said between nine and 13 jobs will go and additional posts will not be filled if other staff leave.

Reductions will be made to Museums Sheffield’s exhibition programming and marketing budgets for 2011/12.

Paul Billington, director of culture at Sheffield Council, said: “The plan protects access to museums at the most popular times and continues with schools programmes.”