LOCAL ARTS CENTRES …..

 

The arts are, and have always been, intangible. Paintings and 3D objects could be deemed to be exceptions but then added value is pure intangibility. A painting could be said to be worth £5 for the frame, another £5 for the paint and £3 for the canvas, equalling £13. So how is it some paintings can sell for millions of pounds? Perceived or added value.

Taking the above into account can we therefore say the same for the art centres which display these works? An example will come to light next month when Teignbridge District Council, which owns the premises currently occupied by the TAAG (Teignbridge Arts Appreciation Group) Arts Centre in Devon, will decide whether to sell the premises for housing or to the arts centre itself.

Which is worth more? housing (which will probably be priced out of the reach of most local residents) or a facility that has developed into a thriving community asset, creates opportunities for local people to express themselves and offers all the advantages that the arts bring to a community. (and yes, I am biased).

TAAG are offering the sum of £50,000 to purchase the building knowing that, under current legislation, the council do not have to accept the highest (closed) bid. The council have also informally offered to take out a loan on behalf of TAAG from the Public Works Loan Board. This would then hopefully create a lease of at least 30 years which would mean that TAAG could apply for funding to allow it to survive which it could not do without the long-term future of the venue secured. The whole situation involves a lot of political manoeuvring, which of course is the antipathies of what the arts offer. But it will be worth it. Why? Because an arts centre offers what flats can’t.

Although the inherent features of arts centres, their multidisciplinary context and the community, civic and artistic role they play – can make it difficult to pin down their identities, and often lead to them being underrepresented in the media and public dialogue around the arts, this challenge can also be their greatest strength. Arts centres are the unsung heroes of the creative sector, and they might hold the key to the future of UK arts.

 

They might also, in the future, hold the key to establishing coherent, sustainable communitiesand should therefore perhaps be the first constituent in any planning process rather than the potential value of their premises.

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