Yesterday, THIS story appeared in one of the local newspapers. It announces the Council’s intention to vacate the building which currently houses the City Library and the Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art. People are understandably angry and outraged but it’s being justified by the need to make savings. (Yes, that old chestnut). The fact it has been conducted behind closed doors, in secret, does nothing to reassure myself that it’s completely unavoidable.
Some semblance of the library is due to relocate within the city. The future of the Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art seems much less certain. I know that Art can be very subjective. (I cerainly haven’t liked everything the NGCA has shown). But, with no big budget, the gallery has stuck to what is contemporary with admirable integrity.
When I was at University, I got my first opportunity to exhibit at the NGCA, courtesy of a scheme to develop new talent. I was one of a number of students’ whose work was shortlisted for consideration. It was later chosen to go on display in the library space. This was what I call my ‘Pinocchio moment’, when I suddenly felt like a real artist. It genuinely changed my outlook and future plans.
I wonder, what value does the City Council put on that experience? How can they even quantify it? Art has been shown to improve quality of life but it’s not deemed to be essential. Cost is not the same as value. They don’t know if or when the next Andy Warhol or Cornelia Parker might show up at the NGCA but future prestige won’t pay for the street-lighting or refuse collection of today.
Art is a cheap target.