The future of Towner Gallery, a leading regional UK arts space, is in jeopardy due to a possible 50 percent cut in funding proposed by the Eastbourne Borough Council (EBC). As Towner’s biggest stakeholder, EBC currently invests $818,000 in the gallery every year.
EBC has proposed an initial reduction of $266,000 starting in April 2018, followed by incremental cuts in subsequent years. Towner’s board chair, David Dimbleby, said that as a result of the proposed cuts, “we could lose six out of ten exhibitions a year, as well as our award-winning learning program, putting at risk everything that Towner stands for.”
According to the BBC, the council said that this is the first time it has reduced financial support to the gallery. A council spokesman said that the council’s budget was slashed this year by the government.
In addition to its exhibition program, Towner’s learning and outreach initiatives—which reached more than ten thousand people last year, including seventy schools and eight thousand children from Eastbourne and across East Sussex—would also be at risk. “The loss of the program would have a profound impact, particularly due to the fact that arts subjects are no longer requisite in the national curriculum,” the gallery said in a statement. The gallery also provides support and creative development for vulnerable groups, including adults and children with mental health conditions and people living with dementia and memory loss. Nearly 150,000 people visit the gallery each year.