Sheffield Museums, the charitable trust which runs Sheffield’s five council owned museums, recieved a 5% budget cut in March this year. They approached the council for a cash injection to stave off a “serious cashflow problem.”
Council leader Paul Scriven said, “We believe it is important to support the museums through this period, but we are confident that over the next two months we will be able to work together and ensure the finances of Museums Sheffield are back on track.
”We will also be working with them to develop long-term proposals to ensure that the organisation can avoid similar cash flow problems in the future.”
The running of Sheffield’s museums and galleries was “devolved” to private sector organisations in the 1990s, partially as a response to the debts incurred by the city’s hosting of 1991’s World Student Games.
Members of the public were excluded from the meeting where the deal was agreed, and the council have refused divulge the size and terms of the bailout.
Complaints about the lack of transparency in the deal were aired in an opinion piece in The Star: “On the face of it Museums Sheffield, set up as a limited company 12 years ago to run Sheffield’s four museums, is a stand alone business which has cut the umbilical chord with the city council.
But that relationship has never been straightforward and the museums knew exactly where to turn when they ran into financial trouble.
However, as the council is clearly still pulling the strings, we believe it is unacceptable therefore that there should have been a decision to keep the public in the dark as to exactly how much of their money had been handed over to the cash-strapped organisation.”