Norwich Gallery to close after grant decision

A cultural gap will be left by the closure of one of the region's most respected contemporary art galleries which has lost £190,000 in funding.

A cultural gap will be left by the closure of one of the region's most respected contemporary art galleries which has lost £190,000 in funding.

The Norwich Gallery has played host to countless cutting-edge artists and attracts more than 40,000 visitors a year but it was confirmed yesterday that it will close because the Arts Council has withdrawn its grant - leading potentially to the redundancy of the five staff.

Now discussions are taking place to eke out a modified role for the prestigious St George Street gallery - which is part of the renowned Norwich School of Art and Design - and the staff.

If plans go ahead it will still play host to the prestigious yearly graduate show but also provide exhibition space for other students and staff.

Keith Bartlett, deputy principal of the Norwich School of Art and Design, said: "The Norwich Gallery has built a strong profile both in the city and further afield and its closure will change things. I do not think anybody will suggest the kind of work we are looking at replacing it with can fill the gap.

"It goes back to a decision taken by the Arts Council in August. It is not a situation we want but we do not have the resources to replace that kind of funding.

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"We hope to use the space, which is part of the school, to exhibit work by staff and students and also as a book-able space for exhibitions.

"We are in a dialogue with staff and looking at ways in which they could be redeployed."

The gallery is currently hosting the East International Festival which runs until the end of August.

Arts Council spokeswoman Aileen Muir said their relationship with the gallery extended 20 years but that they were looking for new ways to invest in the city.

"Arts Council England, East has been working with Norwich School of Art and Design to review our partnership and refresh our priorities. Together with other stakeholders in the city, we have been exploring a range of ideas for delivering high-quality visual arts to audiences in Norwich, building on the legacy of Norwich Gallery and taking into account all stakeholders' capacity and resources," she said.

"As part of this step change, Contemporary Art Norwich is one facet of this revival which we are supporting directly. This international and culturally diverse visual arts event in Norwich aims to attract support and investment to run on a biennial basis and is an initiative of Arts Council England, East in partnership with Norwich City Council and Norwich School of Art and Design. Its ambition is to create a city transformed by art that will put Norwich firmly on the cultural visitor map and promote the East region as the centre for talent and innovation."

A final decision on new plans for the gallery should be taken by early October.

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