Wakefield Council's Cabinet is to discuss how to continue providing financial support to The Hepworth Wakefield following its many successes. It is estimated that The Hepworth Wakefield has contributed £22.8 million towards the local economy since it opened. It is recognised as the biggest gallery outside London and since its opening in 2011 has achieved over a million visits – far exceeding original estimates. Cllr Les Shaw, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: "By working in partnership we have been able to support the creation of this fantastic award-winning gallery for the district. "The iconic Hepworth Wakefield is a key feature in the regeneration of the area and it has already proved itself as a premier cultural tourism destination in the region and beyond. That is why we are looking at how we can continue to provide support, despite the current tough economic situation." The report recommends that the Council provides £1.24m funding to the gallery per year from 2015 to 2019. It also recommends that a review is carried to determine a long term solution to funding the gallery that reduces the reliance of Council funding. The Council played an instrumental role in the building of the gallery and in establishing an independent Trust to manage and operate the building and the collections on a 25 year lease agreement. The report outlines that the budget provision for 2015/16 and for subsequent years is currently £1.24 million and that this is the same amount of funding as in 2014/15. However, there is no budget provision to increase this level of funding from 2015/16. Any increase in funding could not be met from within existing budgets. The Council's key decision makers are to discuss the service concession agreement for the Hepworth Wakefield on Tuesday July 29. A further report will be brought back to Cabinet once a review is carried out into long term funding solutions.
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