'Unappreciated' Walsall's New Art Gallery may close

The award-winning New Art Gallery, Walsall, opened in 2000 as a beacon in Tony Blair's "Golden Age" of culture at a cost of £21m with £15.75m in lottery money, mat be closed by local authority funding cuts.

The gallery's director Stephen Snoddy, has been told that Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council's annual £800,000 grant might be reduced by 25% a year to zero by 2020, a loss of income the gallery, which attracts 180,00 visitors a year, could not sustain. The cut may be matched by a simliar reduction in the Arts Council's grant of £900,000 a year.

 “If we continue with these austerity measures then in four years time we will be left with one library, no youth service, no art gallery and no performing arts centre. Public services are at the point of breaking right across Walsall” Walsall Council's leader, Sean Coughlan, told The Observer.

If the threat is carried out the gallery would close during the Arts Council chaimanship of the current Tate director Nicholas Serota, long a champion of the NAGW who has cited it as responsible for a sea-change in attitudes to visual art.

The gallery was designed by the architects Caruso St John, winner so the 2016 Critics' Circle Visual Arts Award. “The gallery was enormously significant" said Adam Caruso. "It was one of many regional arts initiatives that were made possible with the National Lottery. The amount of return that a very small amount of public investment unlocked is incredible. These are vital cultural and social places. Their value is not being appreciated.”




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