I was horrified to hear of the proposed savage cut to the council funding for our prestigious Towner Gallery.
Towner is arguably the most important cultural asset we have in Eastbourne and its reputation and influence has achieved national importance.
The dedicated team of specialist professional and volunteer staff at Towner have worked tirelessly to curate some of the most important exhibitions seen in the South.
Their work with schools, colleges, youth services and the outreach and community events programme has ensured that participation in the arts is accessible and readily available to all sectors of our society. Last year nearly 150,000 people visited Towner, many of whom will have also supported our local businesses, hotels and restaurants.
Towner’s importance is recognised nationally and is one of only four galleries in the country to be granted Arts Council partnership.
To contemplate the closure of our gallery which welcomes residents and visitors to our town alike is inconceivable.
This May, Towner is holding a major exhibition marking the 75th anniversary of the death of Eastbourne’s Eric Ravilious, an artist whose haunting and iconic paintings and engravings of the south coast downland have immortalised and celebrated our region.
Towner holds one of the largest and most important collections of his work and it was because of financial support from a previous Eastbourne Borough Council that he was able to study at the Royal College of Art and gain his reputation as one of our nation’s important artists and designers.
Hastings is hailing the success of its Jerwood Gallery, Bexhill has The De La Warr, Brighton has its museum and art gallery and Margate’s regeneration is focused on the success of the Turner Contemporary Gallery.
It seems inconceivable that such extreme funding cuts by this council could jeopardise the very existence of our Towner Gallery. Along with our theatres, Towner is a vital part of the cultural life of the town and is an integral part of the Devonshire Park area redevelopment.
The town without Towner will be a much diminished place to live.