Statement from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland
Issued February 28 2006
Regarding the closure of the Ormeau Baths Gallery
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) is saddened by the decision of the Chair of the Ormeau Baths Gallery (OBG) to announce the closure of the gallery. However, given the company’s inability to reduce its longstanding financial deficit or to sustain the gallery space as a viable arts venue, we agreed to help OBG to wind-down its affairs in an orderly, business-like manner.
We regret the emotive and inaccurate statements issued by staff at OBG who are, understandably, upset on hearing of the Board’s decision to enter insolvency.
We emphasise again that at all times, the Council has worked with OBG staff and the Board members to try and find solutions to problems that they have experienced consistently over the past 2 years and more.
However, the ongoing financial deficit position, along with a lack of confidence in the governance of the company and their ability to make the gallery viable, has forced the ACNI not to award any future public funding to this organisation. Our role is to safeguard public money and the Arts Council remains committed to maintaining independent public gallery provision in the city.
The amount of funding going to the OBG will not be lost in the next financial year. Whilst this is a temporary difficulty, it should in no way distract us from our principal objective of securing ongoing gallery provision. Indeed this also represents an opportunity to broaden the appeal of this particular gallery space to the wider public and to provide greater opportunities to artists.
We are actively exploring options with potential partners in the visual arts sector and are confident that the gallery space will reopen under new management as soon as possible.