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Council cuts could close Caruso St John's Walsall art gallery

Walsall gallery caruso st john flickr gillie rhodes crop
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The future of Caruso St John’s seminal New Art Gallery Walsall is in doubt just a fortnight after the practice’s Newport Street Gallery won the Stirling Prize

Walsall Council has said it needs to cut £86 million from its costs over the rest of this decade – and that the acclaimed gallery which was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize in 2000 is one possible source of savings.

A petition to save the gallery has already been launched, with its founder claiming the closure would be ‘both unethical and impractical’ and would ‘destroy the atmosphere of many surrounding communities’.

The local authority gives £470,000 a year to the gallery as well as subsidising the ’central and property costs’ - taking its total annual financial commitment to about £900,000.

Caruso St John’s website hails the council-backed art gallery ‘as a model of quality and good practice, which could act as a central figure within the town, around which future regeneration of a former industrial wharf area to the east of the town centre could evolve’.

But a statement from the local authority said today: ‘Continued austerity will mean this authority and many other councils have to reduce what they do, at a time when we are seeing a greater demand for social care services from our ageing, frail population, increasing demands on children’s services and reductions in NHS spending.

‘The council fully appreciates that the art gallery is much-loved by those who use it. However, like many councils across the country, this authority can’t ignore the fact that savings have to be made.

‘This is why we will be consulting with our public on all the budget options for the gallery. No final decision has been made, nor will be made until we have listened to our residents, service users and partners alike to find the best available option.’

The council will make final decisions on its spending in February.

Caruso St John won this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize, at the third attempt, with its Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall, London.

 

 

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Meanwhile south of Watford gap gardenbridge is still not cancelled

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  • For Simon Carne:
    Objectors to 'brexit' are now branded 'remoaners', objectors to the Scottish separatist referendum got a variety of perjorative labels, and objectors to the accursed garden bridge have already acquired some less than complementary monikers (ask the redoubtable Paul Finch), so don't be a spoilsport and stop your whingeing and snivelling - don't you realise that your superiors know far better than you, that belt-tightening means belt-tightening? - at least, out in the post-industrial sticks, where the voters are probably a lost cause anyway (unless you can enliven them with a dash of Northern Powerhouse sauce).
    After all, The Garden Bridge Trust keeps reassuring us that the People Have Spoken - so shut up, Simon, please - know your place.

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