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Council passes plans to show off art collection
SWINDON may be leading the way when it comes to attracting big businesses and keeping the houses prices down, but it still has a long journey before it will be recognised as a cultural hub competing with the likes of Bath and Bristol.
That is why council bosses passed plans for a pioneering scheme to develop a cultural quarter, housing the town’s impressive 20th Century art collection, which currently has 90 per cent of its stock locked up behind closed doors.
Princes Street Wyvern Theatre multi-storey car park has been selected as the ideal location for this ambitious proposal due to its proximity near to the main shops, and because it offers the potential to build more than just a new art gallery and museum but also parks, offices and residential houses.
Swindon Council’s cabinet members gave their blessing for action to progress on the project, at a meeting on Wednesday night.
This will see the former car park being demolished mid-way through next year, applications for funding being sought from the Arts Council and Lottery Heritage and a £50,000 feasibility study being launched.
“It’s great to acknowledge Swindon’s need for an art gallery and museum,” said councillor Garry Perkins, cabinet member for economy, regeneration and culture.
“We have the second most impressive 20th Century art collections in the country and it should be put on display.
“There will be a whole cultural quarter there, the library is already near the site then there is little art galleries and the new cinema will be there as well.”
He said the scheme was first identified in the town’s masterplan, which was drawn up by the council and Forward Swindon. This grand plan identified the need for an improved cultural centre as one of Swindon’s most significant hurdles.
“This should bring more businesses into the town,” said Coun Perkins. “Employers look for places where people would like to live, where their families and child children are happy so that is why cultural investment is very important.”
Friends of Swindon Art Gallery and Museum along with a number of businesses have expressed an interest in either providing money or fundraising for the project.
Robert Hiscox, of Hiscox Insurance is leading the way to find potential supporters.
“I love the art in Swindon, it has a very interesting collection, bought for very little money,” said Mr Hiscox.
“It is an extremely good example of modern art but it needs to be better housed.
“Swindon’s not known for its culture. What I love about Swindon is it wants to regenerate.
“This new gallery would not only boost Swindon’s visitors but it will help the whole surrounding area.
“I love art – building a good centre is not all about businesses, it’s not all about shops, cultural and other activities are very important.”
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