Start protesting at Smith threat.
Dear Editor I contacted the Smith Art Gallery and Museum today about the 2018 restart of my lecture programme only to learn from the director, Elspeth King, the appalling news of the proposal from Stirling Council to slash its budget by PS242,000 and this will shut down the Smith by 2020.
The Smith was founded 144 years ago as an exhibiting site for contemporary art collected by Thomas Smith, a renowned painter. In modern times, it became internationally famous in the 1980s through the Smith Biennial, which launched the careers of its prize winners, and was transferred to a London venue as a mark of its success.
Bleak years in the early 1990s after Deborah Haase, director, and Andrew Guest, exhibitions organiser, left, were overturned by the 1995 arrival of Elspeth King.
She has refocused the display on the museum collection, with changing environmental, art and craft exhibitions. The Smith is a vibrant community hub, with lectures, meetings of singers, societies and political groups, together with an educational outreach programme which engages a vast hinterland of schools, even as far as Glasgow It is of huge tourist importance, with international groups, coach parties, and students using its resources to understand the history and culture of the area. The miners have been celebrated in both permanent display, and temporal exhibition. More than the castle, it celebrates the community life of Forth Valley.
The closure of the Smith would be a cultural disaster for Stirling, and a self-inflicted head-wound for the council.
The council has a recent history of colossal misjudgment on budgetary matters. Closure of the internationally esteemed Changing Room for a saving of PS54,000, while frittering PS300,000 on the failed festival director, was a follow-up to closure of Le Weekend, an international success in experimental music.
Recent support for the shiny PR and marketing skills of Creative Stirling has done little for the arts, and, of course, the smart ceremonial car, awarded as government squeeze was affecting services has alienated a large constituency in the area.
I appeal to all concerned citizens, who might see the connection between health and the arts, as distinct from a cultural desert, to voice their horror at this latest abhorrent proposal. There is a petition. http:/chn.ge/2F3WYUd Peter Russell By email