GLASGOW’S culture and leisure chairman has issued a plea to government and other sectors asking who will step forward to help them as they begin to recover from the pandemic.

Councillor David McDonald, chairman of arms-length council organisation Glasgow Life, believes that now is the time to work together with the Scottish Government and the NHS to agree new ways to fund the services which benefit physical, mental and economic health.

It comes at a time when Glasgow Life is negotiating its way out of the crippling impact of the pandemic which saw them lose £38million last year due to venues and services being closed. As revealed in The Herald earlier this week they have estimated a projected income of just £6.4million for 2021-22.

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Before the pandemic the Glasgow City Council ALEO, which is responsible for 171 venues with a budget of £115m, but it has said it cannot reopen anymore than the 90 it has already announced earlier this year.

The Herald: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is run by Glasgow LifeKelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is run by Glasgow Life

Glasgow Life said in the current climate, it’s unrealistic to expect that they can raise significant additional income this year that will support the reopening of venues beyond those already announced.

In an open letter exclusively revealed in The Herald, Councillor McDonald said they were fully aware of the impact of the pandemic on city finances. He said they don’t yet know when their income will return to pre-pandemic levels.

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Cllr McDonald wrote: “To recover we need to work together with partners including the NHS and the Scottish Government, to agree new ways to fund the services we rely on for the common weal; for our physical, mental and economic health.

“We know that getting the model right, one which provides easy access to culture and sport services widely across the city is our best chance of reducing the burden on future generations and growing Glasgow’s wider economy. The impact of inaction on the health and wellbeing of our city and its people could be profound.

“We are ready to make the changes required to support everyone to live a great Glasgow life. Who will step forward to help us?”

Glasgow Life operates the city’s flagship cultural and sports facilities, including the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the Riverside Museum and normally 18 million people would go through the doors of Glasgow Life venues every year. Its famous museums do not charge visitors but partly make up for this with money from gift shops, cafes and one-off special exhibitions.

Income generated through concert tickets and donations supports Glasgow Life services but last year it all stopped completely.

The Herald: Councillor David McDonald has written an open letterCouncillor David McDonald has written an open letter

Cllr McDonald continued in his letter: “Glasgow Life lost £38 million of income when our doors closed in March 2020. All of it money that would have been reinvested in our local, national and international cultural and sporting assets that we are proud to deliver on behalf of the people of Glasgow.

“Glasgow City Council has help met the challenge as far as it can guaranteeing Glasgow Life an income of £100 million pounds for the next 4 years. That certainty means around 90 venues are reopening rather than the 61 announced in July last year.

“It is that support that also allows us to say with confidence that every Glasgow Life venue will reopen when funding becomes available.

“We all agree that these services are important, but we do not yet know when our income levels will recover to pre-pandemic levels to allow us to reopen all of our cherished venues.”

He said the test event at the Glasgow Green Fanzone for Euro 2020 was important to gather learning to take to the Scottish Government about how events in the city could take place again safely.

Cllr McDonald recognised the pandemic's wake would place a greater strain on funding models but hoped for a new way forward.

The Scottish Government said it recognised the importance of Glasgow Life's role and they were doing all they can to help vital work continue.

A spokesman said: “We know how difficult it has been throughout the pandemic for organisations such as Glasgow Life who are at the forefront of improving the physical and mental wellbeing of the community. We recognise the huge importance of the role Glasgow Life performs and we are doing everything we can to ensure this vital work continues as soon as the pandemic allows.”