Yorkshire Sculpture Park is at the heart of our community and a ‘tourism magnet’, says Executive Director Peter Murray.
As the park gets ready to unveil a new visitor centre this weekend, he reflected on the success of the park and just what it means to the people of Wakefield.
He said: “I think Yorkshire Sculpture Park is very much part of this region now. People associate Wakefield with it and it also attracts large numbers from schools who see it as a centre of learning, so I think it’s very important for education.
“People of the region love coming here, walking around and seeing the artwork as well as relaxing with a coffee and stunning views - it has something for everyone.
“It also attracts people from all over Britain and even all around the world, so it contributes quite significantly to the economy of the region.”
He believes that the unique outdoor art experience is vital to the educational growth of children across the country and is thrilled that so many schools in the area take advantage of it, but he is worried about the damage that Government funding cuts are doing to the arts within education.
He said: “There are so many cuts in the public sector now, in particular to the arts. “The Government decides on priorities and I think the cuts to public spending are too severe.
Places like Wakefield are being hit the hardest and for arts to be cut is wrong because it means that you are not getting a balanced view of the world. You are taking something away and not giving them the full experience, particularly in regards to the expressive and creative aspect which is so important to child development.
“But what is special about Wakefield is we have this unique facility - there’s no other like it in Europe, let alone the world, so it is an extremely exciting prospect for learning and education to have this on your doorstep. It adds culture and I think that people really appreciate it.”
Mr Murray thinks the new development will help to draw in more visitors who are eager to explore the new gallery and take in the stunning views of the grounds that the building has to offer.
He hopes that this will bring more income to the park to ensure that it can continue to be a valuable asset to the area.
He said: “We have a lot of grounds to maintain which is a lot of expense - especially with Government cuts - so we are hoping this will drive more business and donations to help us keep going and continue to provide a wonderful service for people.
“This in turn will generate more money for Wakefield as a whole because we hope that people coming to Yorkshire Sculpture Park from a far will stay in the area and see some of the other great things we have to offer them.”