A Green Councillor has been successful in brokering a deal to save an art gallery, and create hope for its neighbours, following recent news that Madeira Terraces have become structurally unstable. Cllr Tom Druitt, Green spokesperson for Economic Development & Culture, made several visits to the site to see what could be done and meet with those running the affected galleries, some of which were due to be closed down this week.
On Tuesday this week Cllr Druitt met with the gallery owners again and discussed various practical options and ideas to keep the galleries and bring back the passing trade to this beleaguered stretch of seafront. Together they came up with an idea to relocate the portacabin, used by the JAG gallery, along the road where there’s more space and add more portacabins to create a mini ‘artists quarter’. This would not only give a last-minute reprieve to the JAG gallery, it would also enable the artists who have already vacated the Terraces to return and provide an attractive destination for residents and day-trippers alike.
Cllr Druitt discussed this idea with senior council officers, who got to work straight away on working out how it might work in practice. There is still some work to do, but the signs are very promising.
Cllr. Druitt said:
“We all know that fixing the Terraces themselves is a long term project, but what most concerned me when I visited the traders there was the fact that many of the artists had already left, the ones that remained were very close to losing their galleries and their livelihoods, and the area was looking very run-down. Even the traders that were able to remain were badly affected, as the area was beginning to look like a building site, litter was gathering behind the fencing, and footfall had almost disappeared. It’s been a real pleasure working with the traders on ideas to improve the area, and I’m so pleased that we now have a glimmer of hope that we can not only maintain the affected galleries but also give the area a new lease of life. I’d like to thank those council staff who have acted so quickly to explore everything possible, and the traders who have worked so positively to find a solution.”
Steve Honeysett, of the Honeysett Gallery, said:
“Tom has put in a huge amount of work in a short amount of time – he has been outstanding”
“Once a space like this is lost, it would be twice the work to get it back. By creating a temporary working space for up to twenty displaced artists, we will be able to maintain and make sustainable this artists’ quarter into the future”