The Towner – the case for the defence...

I was saddened to read David Stevens’ recent criticisms of the Towner (Where are the Towner queues?, Herald letters, July 29) and would like to help him take pride in this important local asset.

Contrary to David’s assertion, visitor numbers to our new gallery have been huge. In its first year, there were almost 100,000 visitors, smashing the target of 60,000.

Subsequent (increased) targets have also been beaten – and more than four times more people visit the new Towner compared to the old gallery.

I am sure David will be pleased to know almost 5,000 children have taken part in our education programme, with more than 4,000 children exhibiting their art work.

As David knows, Towner is a partnership with the Arts Council. At a time when it has seen its funding slashed, the Arts Council has increased its grant to Towner from £176,000 a year to a massive £375,000 a year because of its ‘extraordinary value for money’.

It is also worth noting that, over this summer, Towner has received positive reviews in all national broadsheet newspapers.

It is one of the Sunday Telegraph’s top seaside cultural destinations, ‘does Eastbourne proud’ (The Guardian) and was described by The Observer as ‘brilliantly run’.

I would like, through this letter, to invite David to join me on a tour of the Towner so he can be as impressed and proud as I am.

Councillor Neil Stanley

Devonshire ward councillor.