Great Sheffield Art Show under threat

Crowds at the Great Sheffield Art Show
Crowds at the Great Sheffield Art Show

The Great Sheffield Art Show - one of the staples of the city’s cultural calendar since 1987 - may have to be cancelled next year due to lack of funding, The Star can exclusively reveal.

The annual event - the biggest of its kind in the north - attracts more than 250 amateur artists from across England displaying work to over 3,000 visitors at the Octagon Centre on Western Bank.

But organisers say the 2014 event is in danger after five years of dwindling sales and declining sponsorship.

This year’s show was especially hard-hit. Fewer visitor numbers have been blamed on a ‘perfect storm’ of the ongoing recession and the weekend it was held - July 5 to 7 - which clashed with both hot sunny weather and the Andrew Murray Wimbledon final.

Coordinator Mike Fearn said: “If we don’t get new sponsors and find other revenue streams, yes, we are anxious about the future.

“Sheffield needs this event and we are determined to make it work. But we do need to find funding or cut costs somehow.

“We have been on running on half a tank since the recession started.

“This year, financially, we broke even but we have very little to invest in next year’s show.”

He added that although the main sponsor, Investec, was staying on board, revenue from sales had fallen dramatically. This year £12,000 worth of paintings were sold - compared to about £20,000 in the 2000s.

The Great Sheffield Art Show was founded in 1987 by art lover Isobel Blincow.

She ran the show herself with the help of friends after Sheffield Council refused help and funding because officers were busy preparing for the World Student Games.

It is still run entirely by a team of volunteers, with any profits donated to various charities.

Several of Sheffield’s professional artists had their first exhibition at the show.