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Kidderminster gallery group to fund arts grants after closing
THE campaign group which fought to save Kidderminster Library’s top-floor gallery from being downgraded will be disbanded, leaving behind a fund to help local artists.
Kidderminster Gallery Friends announced it would wind itself up as building work at the library’s second floor started.
The work is part of Worcestershire County Council plans to save £1.8 million from its library service. The Steinway grand piano has been moved to Kidderminster Town Hall.
Group organisers say refunds have been offered to people who donated to the cause during the campaign but hoped the majority would opt for allowing their money to be used for an “arts and cuts” grant fund – the full details of which are still being discussed.
Friends secretary Stephen Brown said: “We have been bowled over by the positive energy and actions of those involved in the campaign and from those that supported us.
“Something really good came out of all the negativity and the philistine attitude displayed by the county council towards the arts in Wyre Forest. We want to capture that spirit with this legacy arts project idea.”
The gallery friends group was set up about 10 months ago as Wyre Forest artists and musicians opposed plans to move the gallery to the ground floor, the piano to the first floor and put 90 desks and 139 council staff on the top floor. That proposal was subsequently withdrawn by the council in June following the strong reaction.
The friends formed as a constituted body in September, with the purpose of maintaining the original gallery and working with the council. Days before the group’s first meeting, however, the council submitted revised plans for a new gallery on the first floor – which the friends rejected.
The friends held their own “engagement event” and consultation which, organisers claimed, showed popular support for keeping the gallery where it was but the council’s plans were sealed after winning approval from the planning committee in December.