A MODERN art gallery has been forced to close its doors for the rest of the year due to a severe crisis in funding.

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art’s Modern Two building has been shut to the public after its director-general warned last month that the institution was in financial difficulty.

Speaking to the Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee at Holyrood in September, Sir John Leighton said that the various crises facing the cultural sector would lead to a “massively reduced offer”.

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He cited the lingering impact of the Covid-19, soaring inflation, and rising energy costs as reasons why the National Galleries of Scotland was struggling “to keep the lights on”.

He told MSPs: “We face a funding challenge the like of which I’ve never before witnessed or imagined.

“Already, before the events of recent months, we were looking at a pretty substantial deficit in our budget for next year, widening in the years beyond.

The National: Sir John LeightonSir John Leighton

“Then when you layer in the lingering impact of the pandemic, when you layer in the dramatic inflationary costs that we’re seeing at the moment, the pressure to try and keep paying a fair wage to our staff and, of course, the energy costs, which for my organisation are predicted to at least double next year from a six-figure sum to a seven-figure sum.

“Then you are talking about a crisis that feels more serious and more difficult to deal with than the pandemic itself.”

It comes in the wake of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Filmhouse and Aberdeen’s Belmont cinema closing, with a loss of 102 jobs, as the cultural sector struggles in these straitened financial times.

Modern Two is part of the National Galleries of Scotland, which Leighton said has had its funding model completely transformed over the past decade - with 92% of government subsidy now going towards wages. 

That means that income from the galleries commercial activities has had to be ramped-up. 

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A spokesperson for the galleries added: “The culture sector was badly affected during the pandemic and, like so many national and local cultural organisations, National Galleries of Scotland is still in a period of recovery with visitor numbers and self-generated income still well below pre-Covid levels.

“On top of the lingering impact of the pandemic, we now have a cost-of-living crisis with rampant inflation and the prospect of dramatic increases in energy costs.

“It should be stressed that these were potential future scenarios and National Galleries of Scotland will, of course, work hard, with the support of Scottish Government, to do everything possible to maintain its ambitions and position as a flagship of Scottish culture in the years to come.”

The galleries say they will make an announcement regarding the 2023 programme for Modern Two in due course.