Sunday, March 05, 2006

Questions to Arts Council of Northern Ireland Regarding withdrawal of funding from OBG, Released by Campaign for OBG

PRESS RELEASE

1 MARCH 2006

ON THE DAY OF THE CLOSURE OF THE ORMEAU BATHS GALLERY,

WE, AS MEMBERS OF THE ARTS SECTOR IN NORTHERN IRELAND, WOULD LIKE TO PUT THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS TO THE ARTS COUNCIL OF NORTHERN IRELAND:


1. The Arts Council say they “agreed to help OBG to wind down its affairs in an orderly, business-like manner”. Is it orderly and business-like to give two days’ notice to the four permanent members of staff, and not even leave time to take down the current exhibition?

2. The Arts Council say there were financial irregularities at the Ormeau Baths Gallery. Why then did a forensic audit, called by the Arts Council, clear it of any wrongdoing?

3. The Arts Council say they are “actively exploring options with potential partners in the visual arts sector and are confident that the gallery space will re-open”. Given the alienation of the arts sector as a result of this sudden closure how can this confidence be justified?

4. Given the Arts Council’s advocacy of an “arm’s length” policy towards their clients, why have they continuously interfered in the day-to day running of the gallery over a two-year period?

5. The Arts Council has declared a number of reasons for the closure of the gallery including unsustainability and loss of confidence in the management. What evidence is there for any of these claims?

6. The Arts Council says they are “saddened by the decision of the Chair of the Ormeau Baths Gallery to announce the closure of the Gallery”. How can they claim to be “saddened” when their own withdrawal of funding forced the Gallery’s closure?

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