Oct 12 2020
We’re really pleased to announce that Museums Sheffield has been awarded £500,000 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund. The grant will provide vital support to face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and help ensure we have a sustainable future.
Museums Sheffield is one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support. £257 million of investment has been announced today as part of the very first round of the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England. Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to have a huge impact on Sheffield’s museums and galleries. Five months of closure followed by an inevitable reduction in visitor numbers has seen a substantial fall in income which would normally be raised through our shops, cafes, corporate hire and the generous donations from people coming through the doors.
To date, Government support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been vital, and we are currently exploring how the recently announced Job Support Scheme could help us meet financial challenges. To further help manage costs, Weston Park Museum and the Millennium Gallery will temporarily close on Mondays from 2 November. In light of these considerable financial pressures, support from the Culture Recovery Fund will play a critical role in helping the charity continue to offer inspiring, engaging and uplifting experiences for the people of the city and beyond. The grant will also directly support the development of the new unified museums trust announced earlier this year, which will see us join together with Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust to tell the city’s story.
The £500,000 funding will support a range of initiatives to strengthen the sustainability and resilience of Museums Sheffield and the new trust.
These include a major review of the schools programme to allow us to adapt to the current needs of the hundreds of schools who usually visit each year, as well as the development of a website for the new trust which will offer meaningful opportunities to enjoy the museums and the collections we care for online. The grant will also resource the additional on-going costs of recent changes to the museums’ air handing systems, which control the conditions the artwork and objects are kept in whilst on display; these were updated over the summer to bring full fresh air into buildings to help keep visitors and staff safe.
Kim Streets, Chief Executive of Museums Sheffield, said:
“The impact of the pandemic on Museums Sheffield over the past seven months has been huge and we’re extremely grateful for this vital support from the Culture Recovery Fund. Five months of closure had a devastating effect on our ability to generate income. Since reopening, our staff team have continued to do incredible work keeping our venues COVID-secure whilst still offering the warmest of welcomes and a first-class experience. While visitor numbers are growing, as anticipated many people understandably just aren’t ready to return yet. Cost-saving measures like Monday closing go some way to helping navigate that, but this support from Culture Recovery Fund will enable us to face some of our biggest immediate challenges, secure the longer term sustainability of the organisation and lay firm foundations for the new trust.”
Weston Park Museum and the Millennium Gallery reopened in August with a range of measures in place to keep everyone safe whilst enjoying a warm welcome and a great visit. These include the introduction of free pre-booked visits alongside capacity for walk-up entry, hand sanitiser available throughout the museums, enhanced cleaning throughout the day, one-way routes in some areas, and more.
At the Millennium Gallery visitors can currently enjoy the acclaimed exhibition Lines of Beauty: Master Drawings from Chatsworth, which showcases over 50 world-class works from the Devonshire Collection. Later this month Weston Park Museum will debut The Sheffield Project: Photographs of a Changing City, chronicling the huge transformation of the city in the late 1980s and early 90s. Museums Sheffield are in the process of reintroducing their popular events programme, including new socially-distanced life drawing classes, half term activities, online tours and more. Plans for the Graves Gallery to reopen are also underway.