4 Dec 2012

City Council funding update 3rd December 2012

Dear Supporters of 126

We feel it is necessary to bring to your attention the very serious issues suddenly facing 126 Gallery.

126 is a critically celebrated artist-run exhibition space in Galway city that promotes challenging and experimental art that would not be seen in commercial galleries or conventional institutions. Since its founding in 2005, 126 provides a place where artists can exhibit along with their local and international peers and influences. 126 is critically acclaimed because of its policy to programme new work and engage with art graduates. It is also important to remember that there is no municipal visual arts gallery in Galway City. 126 is the only place that fulfils this role, and on a completely voluntary basis.

126 relies on public funding to cover its costs. In 2012, The Arts Council provided €10,000 for programming and Galway City Council were asked for €15,000 in rental support. Until now, Galway City Council has provided full rental support of €15,000.

In August 2012 we received an Arts Grant from the Galway City Council of €1,500. Until today, we had only verbal assurances that Galway City Council would continue to provide 126 with the rental support on which the gallery depends as a non-profit organization. We have had no written notice of what we might receive since applying for the city arts grant in June 2012. We have had no notice that we might expect a huge cut. This is in contrast with the city arts strategy.

   Galway City Council approved Confidence in the Arts, Galway City Arts Strategy 2010-2013 in September 2010.

       In the opening paragraph the Strategy states:  A primary emphasis of the strategy is the development of policies which offer clarity in decision making processes and articulates how the City Council will work best with the various communities of the city (page 8)

       The Strategy recognises…deficits  in the city’s arts infrastructure, with particular necessity for provision of dance, music and visual arts (page 16)

       On the same page the Strategy clearly states that the City Council…will support artist led initiatives that are active in the city and encourage the development of ground-up approach to the use of its city spaces.
As of today, 3rd December 2012, we have been informed by Patricia Philbin, Galway City Council that our funding for 2012 is €4,000. The proposed rental support of €4000 represents a 64% cut in total funding from Galway City Council. While we understand that the overall Arts budget may have been cut by 10%, a 64% cut in our rental support seems largely out of proportion with reasonably expected reductions in funding. % is in relation to the full €15,000 being awarded.

While we are grateful for this financial assistance, €5,500 in total is insufficient  and will lead to the closure of 126 Gallery, in which Galway City Council is a major stakeholder.
By providing €15,000 in rental support, Galway City Council have benefited from the full-time work of 8 committed unpaid gallery technicians and administrators that programme and manage a critically acclaimed exhibition space, whose combined labour would otherwise cost the City Council at least €80,000 in wages.

Since 2008, 126 Gallery has hosted an extensive programme of exhibitions and events which include the works of 407 artists based both nationally and internationally. All exhibitions and events are free and open to the public. Many curators have started their careers in 126 Gallery. Emerging artists are championed by 126 and gain a valuable start in their career by exhibiting in the gallery.

The experience gained by the rotating board members in running 126 Gallery is an invaluable training ground and has been compared to the extensive knowledge acquired on a MA programme.

All of this is under immediate threat, and we are asking for your support.

It would be immensely helpful if you could take one minute to send a letter of support to 126, which we will use as support to help strengten our argument and persuade the Galway City Council to review their funding decisions. We have included a suggested text below that you could start with/edit if needed.

Many thanks and best wishes,
The 126 Board
126 Artist-run Gallery
Queen Street
Galway City


Draft letter of support for 126 Artist-run gallery

Dear Galway City Council
We are writing in support of 126 Artist-run gallery and ask that you maintain their previous level of funding that they can continue to provide an essential arts programme that contributes to the cultural life of Galway City.