A local event has reached the ears of the national press with reports that the walls of the Jerwood Gallery on the Stade in Hastings may shortly be denuded of artworks following a dispute between the Jerwood Gallery management and the trustees of the Jerwood Foundation.
The Foundation which built the £5 million facility has been funding the gallery to the tune of £2.6 million since it opened in 2012. However, it took the step in 2016 of informing the management that it would not continue its funding beyond this current year. The dispute apparently centred around a perceived failure on the part of the gallery management to seek out and attract alternative funding from third parties, although an Arts Council grant of £100,000 had been negotiated.
According to Alan Grieve, the Foundation’s chairman, a suggestion that the gallery appoint an executive director with a business background was not accepted. The Jerwood Gallery became a registered charity two years ago, apparently seeking to distance itself from the Foundation’s oversight. Relations deteriorated further with the appointment of solicitors by management in an attempt to pressure the Foundation into continuing the previous level of grant.
The Foundation has reportedly issued a repossession notice in respect of some 300 art works including some by artists of the stature of Stanley Spencer, John Piper and Barbara Hepworth. The gallery will continue as tenants of the building, under management headed by its director Liz Gilmore and chairman David Pennock.
A spokesperson for the gallery, who emphasised that its trustees were committed to keeping the space open, said: “Disengagement discussions between the foundation and the gallery include the departure of the Jerwood collection from the gallery. The gallery has built a name for itself through its temporary exhibitions programme, often in partnership with national institutions such as Tate and the National Gallery.
“The departure of the Jerwood collection will allow the gallery to use the full potential of its remarkable building, offering a broader range of exhibitions for the different audience groups it has built.”
Editor’s note: On the principle of “its an ill wind etc” one wonders whether the possible loss of the Jerwood Collection in Hastings might have a beneficial knock-on effect for the Rye Art Gallery. As one of only a few major galleries in the area and with a permanent collection containing many major artists, it is likely to extend its attraction to a wider public. The current exhibition of items from the permanent collection continues until February 24.
Image Credits: Rye News library.