Freedom should not be taken for granted

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The departure of Matthew Rowe as artistic director of the Towner will be a huge loss for Eastbourne.

Matthew’s remarkable vision and perseverance has ensured that our town is now the cultural centre of the South East.

Working with the internationally acclaimed architect, Rick Mather, to build the Towner, was in itself a great achievement, reflected in both the Architect of the Year and the RIBA awards.

And that achievement has been more than matched both by the quality of the exhibitions including artworks from the Tate collection as part of the Tate Plus scheme and also by the learning and participation programmes involving schools, colleges and community groups.

But beyond these achievements is a very human one.

The concept of the Towner was to bring art to the community, especially to people who would never normally visit an art gallery, the most disadvantaged members of our society: young offenders, substance abusers, people with mental health problems.

The outreach programme which embodies this concept has been recognised as one of the best in the country, while the building itself with its doors opening straight onto the pavement is the physical embodiment of the concept.

Even more is the humanity of the Towner reflected in the enthusiasm and dedication of its wonderful staff which makes a visit to this cultural centre such a pleasure.

Thank you for giving us the Towner, Matthew. It will remain an enduring monument to your vision and Eastbourne will always owe you a great debt of gratitude.

GREG SZANTO, Stuart Avenue.