FINANCIALLY troubled Museums Sheffield suffered a further setback this week when it learned it would no longer receive regular funding from the Arts Council as a result of government cuts of 30% to the arts.
The charity was among the local losers in the Arts Council grants shake-up, along with Danceworks UK, the Sheffield-based producers and promoters of contemporary dance, and performance company Third Angel.
But Sheffield Theatres, which runs the Lyceum and Crucible, was given a 5% increase in its funding for the next three years, and there was encouragement for Eventus, Forced Entertainment, Greentop Community Circus, Music in the Round, Signposts, Site Gallery, the Poetry Business, Vincent Dance Theatre and Yorkshire ArtSpace, which are guaranteed regular funding.
Museums Sheffield will continue to receive grants from Arts Council England until 2012, but it failed in its bid for £68,000 a year between 2012 and 2015 to support its programme of contemporary art.
Last year the Arts Council announced it was changing its system of funding and that all so-called Regularly Funded Organisations had to apply to become a National Portfolio Organisation. For Museums Sheffield, wrestling with how to implement a cut in its city council funding, Arts Council funding is not as significant in its budget.
“But this £68,000 was a vital part of bringing added value to what we already do,” said Kim Streets, director of learning and knowledge. “We are disappointed because we bid for it to fund our contemporary art programme at the Millennium Gallery, our learning activities and audience development work. We will continue to do this. There is a lot of passion and commitment to keep going.”
Chief executive Nick Dodd said: “We’ll now be focusing our energy on seeking out alternative funding sources and opportunities in order to deliver as much as possible of our contemporary art programme in the next few years”.
Also licking their wounds among the 206 RFOs to lose regular funding are Third Angel. “We are, obviously, extremely disappointed, as we were very excited about our planned programme of theatre, live art, digital and video work and creative learning projects,” said Alexander Kelly, co-artistic director.
“We will now work with our partners to find ways of delivering a reduced version of that programme. We’ve been going 15 years and we are not just going to stop.”
Equally defiant were Danceworks, who have been responsible for some striking public events including the “dancing digger” on Devonshire Green and the “toilet tango” in a city centre shop window. “We shall be discussing this decision with the Arts Council before considering how to continue our work in programming, producing and promoting the best in contemporary dance,” said chair Grahame Morris.
City organisations that secured national portfolio status are Sheffield Theatres, Eventus, Forced Entertainment, Greentop Community Circus, Music in the Round, Signposts, Site Gallery, the Poetry Business, Vincent Dance Theatre and Yorkshire ArtSpace.
After the announcement of an extra 5% funding, Sheffield Theatres artistic director Daniel Evans said it was “a significant day for Sheffield Theatres and the wider arts ecology in England”.
Although Music in the Round were successful in achieving national portfolio status, their £142,000 is 21% less than they received in 2009/10.
Board chair Paul Allen said: “Although we are pleased and proud to have this clear endorsement of the way we are taking the largest promoter of chamber music outside London forward, we are disappointed of course not to receive the full amount we applied for.”
By contrast, Site Gallery is getting £192,800 in 2012/13 compared with £170,291 in 2010/11, with inflationary increases over the following two years.
Chair Angela Galvin said: “It’s been a tense wait for ACE’s decision and we now look forward to demonstrating the full impact and value that investing in the arts can bring, not only to artists and audiences but also to our city.”
Forced Entertainment noted that, having already taken a cut of 6.9% for 2011/12, the new settlement as an NPO represented a standstill in funding for 2012 to 2015.
It would certainly impact on the scale, reach and ambition of their activities but they would proceed with ambitious and challenging theatre and performance at home and abroad.
Artistic director Tim Etchells said: “We have a strong sense of how fortunate we are to receive this funding, given that the demands of central government for cuts at any price will devastate the British arts scene.
“Cuts for the arts are particularly short-sighted, given that the recent commitment to funding and development has made British culture the envy of the world and an industry which enjoys a sizable return on investment.”