#Arts & Entertainment
Leicester City Council
United Kingdom

Petition against the plans to permanently close The City Gallery in Leicester and reduce all public contemporary art provision in the city.

Leicester City Council has now drawn up it’s proposed budget for 2011/12 to 2013/14 (http://www.leicester.gov.uk/budget2011/) It has also submitted a new report to the Overview & Scrutiny Management Board (See proposal CS 05 on page 17 http://www.cabinet.leicester.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=24432) meeting on the 3rd February prior to proposals being potentially approved by Cabinet on 21st February and Council on 23rd February.

These new plans are similar to those submitted back in early December 2010 and result in funding for the City Gallery (and therefore contemporary art in Leicester) reducing from the current 2010/11 amount of £311,000 to £69,000 by 2012/13 – a 78% cut.

Whilst some of the details have altered slightly from the plans submitted to the Overview & Scrutiny Management Board in late November 2010, the substance of these proposals remains the same. The cut is still massive and leaves Leicester without any dedicated space for contemporary arts. Leicester is due to be the first city in the country to cut is only contemporary art gallery.

Below details the petition drawn up on 30th November 2010 based on the published proposals to the Overview & Scrutiny Management Board (30th November 2010), since withdrawn (7th December) then resubmitted with slight alterations and no other options (27 January 2011).

Our objections all these plans stand as they were with two minor alterations:
Objection point 5 has been given more clarification in the new proposal ‘CS 05’ (reduction in FTE posts from 6.24 to 2) but still does not make clear cuts to other workers (i.e. Educational project leaders & helpers).
Objection point 6 is now a £69k budget rather than the £34k budget, still a radical cut and still resulting in reduced contemporary art offer and exhibition space in New Walk Museum.


A report has been submitted to the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board, of Leicester City Council, prior the their meeting on 7th December with a recommendation to: “Integrate contemporary visual art services within the exhibition programme and overall offer at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery.”

These plans permanently close The City Gallery, provide a radically reduced (financially by 86.7%) contemporary visual art exhibition & education programme for Leicester and lose around £126,909 of inward investment from Arts Council England per year.

Details of previous plans submitted in December can be found here: http://www.cabinet.leicester.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=23614

We object to these cuts to services and seek clarification as to why:
• The options do not include a continuation of the current provision of exhibitions by City Gallery staff based at New Walk Museum, nor do they include cheaper development options either in the Central Lending Library or in other council or privately owned buildings. They are only options for large capital costs or large reductions in service.
• Options to work with other arts and/or education organisations within the city to provide a dedicated space for the display and education in contemporary art do not seem to have been explored.
• There appears to have been no consultation with current, previous and potential users of The City Gallery, or with other arts/education organisations within the city to determine to need and therefore the loss to the city if provision was radically reduced or completely withdrawn.
• Arts Council funding of £126,909 for 2011/12 will not be available without a robust programme of exhibitions - these proposals do not constitute a robust programme. Also and the option to apply for funding from 2012 onwards has been discounted thus loosing a potential investment into Leicester’s visual arts of £463,471 over four years (based on ACE 15% reduction on 2010/11 City Gallery funding).
• Under ‘Legal Implications’ Section 5.2.2 it states that: “Possible redeployment and redundancy issues for affected staff are identified in the report.” But these are not clearly identified in the report. The current number of staff, (full-time, part-time and sessional staff) are not referred to in the report and therefore a judgment on the implications of the loss of some or all of these by the Councilors at the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board is not possible.
• The proposed Option 2 budget of £34,000 per annum for the integration of City Gallery services to: “cover the staffing costs of exhibition, learning and community engagement support at New Walk Museum and Gallery.” With: “All other costs […] would be found from New Walk Museum and Gallery’s existing budget.” Would result in a loss of exhibition space and budget for New Walk Museums traditional program of displays, as well as representing in a reduced contemporary art offer, education offer and community engagement.

This petition is to ask Leicester City Council to immediately re-think these proposals and:
• Continue with current City Gallery services maintaining the 2011/12 funding from Arts Council England whilst a plan is developed for a sustainable and permanent space for contemporary visual art provision in Leicester.
• Consult with current and past users of City Gallery services, other arts/education organisations and key potential funders to determine the need for these services and how these needs can best be met within potential resources.
• Consult with Arts Council England and apply to the ‘National portfolio funding programme’ for funding from 2012 onwards (by the advertised deadline of 22nd January 2011).
• Clearly identify the implications on staffing including numbers of permanent and sessional staff that will be moved out of the organisation or made redundant.

Whilst it is acknowledged that with large cuts to local council funding as well as Arts Council funding new ideas must be thought of, we feel that these plans to not provide adequate arts services to Leicester. We are therefore feel duty bound to request that the plans be revisited with a view to finding new ways to provide contemporary visual arts in Leicester.

We, the undersigned, are against the plans to permanently close The City Gallery in Leicester and reduce all public contemporary art provision in the city by 78% of its current levels.

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The Save Visual Art in Leicester petition to Leicester City Council was written by Save Art in Leicester and is in the category Arts & Entertainment at GoPetition.