Museums United Kingdom

Northern Ireland community fights to save gallery space

Now that the Turner Prize show is over, locals are concerned that the former Ebrington military barracks will house commercial offices instead of art

The abandoned Ebrington military barracks were converted into a contemporary art gallery for the Turner Prize show, at a cost £2.5m

“Save Ebrington Gallery” read one woman’s t-shirt at a protest outside the Turner Prize exhibition, hosted outside of England for the first time as part of the UK City of Culture in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland. On the last day of the show, 5 January, hundreds gathered to protest the closing of the gallery. The abandoned Ebrington military barracks were converted into a contemporary art gallery for the Turner Prize show, at a cost £2.5m, but the building is now fated to house commercial offices for digital companies.

Artists and locals are concerned that losing the gallery would put the artistic legacy of the UK City of Culture programme at risk. The Belfast Telegraph reported that the Save Ebrington Campaign wants assurances from the Office of the First Minister that “before the builders move in to destroy the gallery, we demand that a full consultation with the community is held”.

One alternative, according to Maolíosa Boyle, the manager of the artist-led non-profit gallery Void, is for the gallery to move into the barracks. Boyle says that the gallery’s staff has grown during Derry/Londonderry’s year as the City of Culture in 2013 and that the spaces it currently occupies are becoming too small. Void has an agreement to rent the Old City Factory until March 2014. “We will be putting a strong case forward that at least one of the spaces should be maintained as a visual art space for Void to either move into or develop,” Boyle says.

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