The abrupt closure of the galleries at Lynn Arts Centre brings into question the value of the arts in Lynn. In the current economic climate the borough council is unwilling to repeat its grants to the project (£140,000 in the last two years).
The consensus of the November meeting of the council’s Regeneration and Development Panel was that the historic buildings should be put to a more commercial use. The sites are under-utilised, disconnected and not well-enough known. The failure of the trust to stage the 2015 Eastern Open was probably a deciding factor. It is likely that the courtyard complex will now be considered for antique fairs or as a wedding venue. Where now for the arts in King’s Lynn? The Arts Centre is described on the council’s website as ‘four elegant art galleries, hosting a year-round programme of exhibitions, regular art, craft and education workshops’. The members of the Regeneration and Development Panel did not consider any alternative sites where the arts could flourish. From this bleak circumstance, could not the trust, with the council, consider keeping the Fermoy Gallery open to ensure a presence of an art space in Lynn? The planned major show of items to be loaned by the Sainsbury Centre as part of the 2016 Lynn Festival could be the prestigious exhibition around which other events could cohere. Overheads for the running of this one gallery would be greatly reduced. Moreover, a suitable sponsor, or sponsors, could be sought to support the Fermoy Gallery, a better, focussed prospect for potential partners than four disconnected exhibition spaces. In addition, a drive for Friends could increase income
and commercial use of the available courtyard buildings could generate footfall for the gallery. There is still time to reprieve the Fermoy Gallery in advance of the start of the new financial year in April and before council budgets are determined. Lynn has a strong tradition of the arts with home-grown talent producing artists such as Henry Baines, Walter Dexter and, more recently, sculptor Andrew Schumann. The town has a wealth of public art and sculpture in its streets, parks and gardens and it would be unthinkable that it could be left without a reputable gallery for the arts.
The Street, Great Snoring