HOLLYWOOD star Michael Sheen has thrown his weight behind the fight to save Newport Art Gallery’s temporary exhibitions.

A statement from Newport-born Mr Sheen, who opened the new Chartist exhibition at the gallery in 2012, said: “I am hugely disturbed to hear of the plans to close Newport Art Gallery’s temporary exhibition programme.

“Not only because of what that would mean to the numerous home-grown artists who would lose precious, and in many cases the first significant exposure of their work, as well as the thousands of visiting people to the area who would lose the opportunity to discover and enjoy this valuable programme, but also because of what it suggests about the future plans for funding of the art gallery and the museum.

“This is perilously dangerous for not only artists at work today, both established and emerging, but also for a new generation of young people growing up starved of the inspiration and vision that exposure to art can bring.”

His comments come as protesters fighting to save the exhibitions say they have now received more than 1,000 petition signatures.

A council statement on the decision, which has already been made, said: “The temporary exhibitions programme in the art gallery until recently was largely funded through the Arts Council Wales.

“However, this guaranteed funding ended and since then grant funding is awarded on a project-by-project basis.

“Ending the temporary exhibitions would provide the opportunity to display work from the permanent art collections on a regular basis.

“It is also being proposed to merge the events and arts development budgets and reduce the total expenditure by £150,000.”