“Last year the Arts Council turned down Museums Sheffield’s application to become a National Portfolio Organisation, despite complimenting our ‘clear, strong, application’. Yesterday, we learned that our application for £1.4m of Renaissance Major Grant funding, cash which has transformed the service we provide for the city since 2004, had also been turned down by the Arts Council.
This comes at a time when local authority cuts, passed down from central government, are impacting badly on arts organisations. Our own local authority funding has been cut by 12% in the current year. The combined effect of these cuts means that Museums Sheffield’s budget for 2012/13 will decline by at least 30%. Large scale staff redundancies, major reductions in exhibition programmes and scaled down learning provision for schools/adults are all now inevitable.
We believe England’s fourth largest city, home to over half a million people and awash with creative talent and potential, deserves better. Visual art in Sheffield in particular is now grossly underfunded in comparison to the city’s potential.”
Thus spake Sheffield Museums and Galleries last week. What a travesty. This announcement has sparked huge outrage amongst culture-loving Sheffielders. We love our museums, we’re proud of our galleries. They’re awesome, they’re exciting, and they’re free. For the price of a tram ticket I could take my kids to see a fully restored Tudor house, a napkin doodle by Picasso, a Toulouse-Lautrec, an Egyptian mummy, a dragon made of Sheffield cutlery, John Bunney’s sketchbook, and a preserved octopus. In Weston Park Museum alone they could dress up as Victorian servants, build an igloo, dance to a French waltz, create a virtual dinosaur, and watch leaf-cutter ants build a nest. And that’s just what’s there all the time. We’ve seen visiting art exhibitions from Antony Gormley to George Stubbs, museum exhibitions about Lauren Child (Charlie and Lola), portraits of famous authors, the teeny tiny world of bugs and the enormous world of ancient China. You know, I could go on, but you get the idea.
One of Sheffield’s favourite artists, Pete McKee (oh yeah, and I’m still gutted to have missed the Kid Acne – another of Sheffield’s favourite artists – exhibition) helped organise a wonderful protest against these cuts, which I went to today. The Shefftopia Picnic!
A massive crowd parked in the main through-fare of the Millennium Galleries, chatting, singing along to The Everly Pregnant Brothers, and adding their words to a giant scroll of paper, and an almost equally giant string of bunting. Yup, I have previous, it was me. And it was brilliant! I was kept busy cutting out more and more flags, and finding enough pins and sellotape to keep the flags flying.
Some wonderful sentiments, and a pretty strong cohort of younger museum-goers speaking out in support of Weston Park Museum.
I’ll leave it to this flag to say what I’m sure we’re all thinking, but for more pictures hop on over to FairyNormal’s Flickr stream.