Will you help pay to put our art on display?
7:50am Monday 23rd September 2013 in Latest News
WEALTHY art-lovers may be asked to fund a new museum and art gallery as Swindon Council searches for funds for the project.
Four locations are being considered for the venue, as extra space is needed to house the extensive collection owned by the town.
But the build will run into millions of pounds, so the Swindon Heritage Board is in talks with the Heritage Lottery Fund to help with finance.
Council leader David Renard, said: “We have asked Barker Langham to provide an appraisal on four locations around the town centre for what will be the best site for a new museum and art gallery. “Some are owned by the council, others are privately owned or spare land.
“The two council-owned properties under consideration are where the Wyvern Theatre car park currently stands or where Aspen House currently stands. We have already contracted with somebody to demolish Aspen House in the next few months, which is why that is a viable option.
“The other two are not owned by the council and we would not want to raise any hairs by announcing them yet. If either of those come back as the preffered option then we would have to enter into discussions with the current owners. It is a fact of life that if the council already owns a site it is much easier to deliver.”
The museum and art gallery, in Bath Road, Old Town, has insufficient space to accommodate the entire public collection.
“It is a lovely building, but I do not think there are too many people who think it is an ideal place to house the collection in Swindon,” said Coun Renard.
“We have space to display no more than 10 per cent of our art collection, and we have a fabulous collection but are not making the most of it.”
Barker Langham will return their recommendations to the council next month, when further discussions will begin.
Coun Renard said: “We are definitely talking millions of pounds. It cannot be wholly or predominantly funded by the council. While we may find some resources to put in we are looking for organisations and possibly some wealthy benefactors to make this become a reality.”
Artists in the town welcome the prospect of a new space to house art collections, but did not like the idea of asking people to dig into their pockets to fund it.
Gordon Dickinson, 54, a prominent artist in the town, said: “The Arts Council should have to pay. It is an arts project and the Arts Council should feel obligated to fund it. They spend enough money on their other projects, and they should make a big contribution. So should the council, because this will bring a lot of visitors into the town if it is done properly.
“I don’t see why individuals should have to pay for it, that is not fair. It is an important collection and should be preserved. We are all paying for it anyway, if the council put money up we are funding it to begin with. For the council to then ask us to pay more is a bit of a cheek.”
Gordon added if the project does go ahead the Wyvern would make a good location.
“I could see the car park as a great area, because it would be keeping all the art in one corner. “That would allow people to take in both the art gallery and the theatre. It makes sense, how many car parks do we need anyway? That would be a great place because it is on the main strip of town.”
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