Council could cut funding to Hepworth Wakefield in favour of district wide approach

Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield..24th October 2018 ..Picture by Simon Hulme
Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield..24th October 2018 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

Senior councillors will consider a plan to cut funding to the Hepworth Wakefield in favour of a district-wide approach next week.

The move - which would benefit more residents and communities - would also see the launch of a new £1.5m Growth Investment Fund to help attract major investment in the district and support longer term sustainability of cultural activities.

Councillors are being recommended to adopt the new funding agreement with The Hepworth Wakefield, when the current agreement ends in March 2019. They are being asked to agree a reduction in the concession fee from the council by £115,000 in the 2019/20 financial year and by £125,000 in each financial year from 2020/21 to 2022/23, when funding will be down to £750k.

The funding saved from this agreement will be reinvested back into a district wide approach, with the aim of benefitting those who currently do not take part in cultural activity.

Cabinet members will also be asked to approve an allocation of £500k capital funding from the new Growth Fund to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park to improve and extend its car parking facilities to help attract more visitors.

A report to councillors says the council has to manage a significant reduction in central government funding, but that it remains committed to delivering a vibrant cultural offering across the district to drive regeneration, skills and learning and improve the health and wellbeing of all its residents.

Coun Jacquie Speight, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport at Wakefield Council, said: “We are considering taking a new approach to the way that we support the arts and culture in the district.

“We are very fortunate in our district that we have a rich and diverse offering with world class attractions including the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Hepworth Wakefield, together with the Theatre Royal, National Coalmining Museum for England, the Art House and National Trust Nostell, which together attract well over a million visits each year, but there are still gaps in engagement and participation, which we are seeking to address through different approaches.”

The new funding structure aims to establish a clearer focus of the funding invested, grow the creative sector and identify new products and approaches to engage more people in cultural activity and creative opportunities. The approach will also work hard at ensuring there is greater collaboration between organisations, with a strong customer focus and encourage wider and more diverse investment into the district.

The report will be presented to cabinet on January 15.