the fate of National Centres

Subject: the fate of National Centres
From: A.J. Moore (
Date: Tue Oct 19 1999 - 06:27:12 EDT

As the UK erects one of the worst eye-sores ever in the name of
the millennium (the ferret wheel on the banks of the Thames), it
comes to light that the National Centre for Popular Music in Sheffield,
a shinning innovation for new music is 1Million in debt and is to
receive a big injection of public money to stave off threatened
closure. (Huge parts of the following text culled remorselessly from
the Yorkshire Post).

apparently / allegedly - 300,000 ukpounds is coming from the Arts Council
and a provisional 30,000 from Yorkshire Arts, which is primarily funded by the
Arts Council.

The Arts Council itself put up the initial 11 Million in Lottery money for
the building.

What has been the problem ?

PricewaterhouseCoopers (who probably made the initial feasibility study but
I am sure have written any responsibility for failure out of their
document) said that
the centre failed to attract the expected number of visitors. Initial
estimates of
400,000 people a year have been scaled down to 150,000.

Blame it on 'visitor fatigue' for sure but as 16 staff have gone already and
many other centres around the country find problems (Royal Armouries and the
Earth Centre for example), perhaps we should look back at the process of
bidding for Lottery funding whereby the figures get massaged
completely out of proportion such that they seem to be bordering upon
falsehoods. In the battle of idealism/vision vs. pragmatism, the former seems
to be victorious. Well not in the case of the NCPM it seems.

I for one have a keen interest in seeing the centre survive as it is going to
be a strong focal point for the musical community. I look forward to seeing
the centre prosper after these initial teething problems.

Dr. Adrian Moore tel - 44 (0)114 2220486
Sheffield University fax - 44 (0)114 2668053
Music Department
Western Bank
Sheffield S10 2TN

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