9:41am Tuesday 17th December 2013
By Gina Bebbington
A TOWN centre gallery has been given a stay of execution as it celebrates 12 months as a hub of creativity.
Volunteers at the Visual Arts Cheshire (VAC) Gallery were told they would have to vacate their Brunner Court premises in January.
But landlord Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) has relented and said the gallery can remain in the shop, formerly the Full of Beans health food shop, until April.
Gill Snowball, from the VAC Gallery committee, said: “Another three months is like Christmas presents for us, we’re delighted.”
Alan Carr, chairman, said: “It’s breathing space to get something organised so we’re not in the same situation in April.
“What that will be we don’t yet know.
“We’ve either got three months to find somewhere to move into or to get enough funding to say to CWAC ‘how much can we pay you to stay here?’”
The gallery is run by volunteers and initially opened in the square in January 2013.
Since then it has hosted 13 exhibitions, a variety of art workshops, several community support initiatives and an international charitable effort, as well as moving premises from 97 Brunner Court to 93 Brunner Court.
Both premises were empty shop units which volunteers refurbished and turned into galleries at their own expense.
Alan said: “It’s an empty shop – if we weren’t in it, no-one would be in it.
“We’re not gaining anything here, we’re giving.”
Gill added: “This was a very quiet and dull part of town but we’ve really helped to regenerate it along with the new seating.
“This summer Brunner Court took on a really continental feel with buskers and artists working outside.
“In our visitors’ book people have said ‘thank goodness it’s not another cash converter, charity shop or betting shop, it’s something inspiring instead’.
“This could be the way forward to regenerate the high street.”
The committee is keen to find a permanent home for the gallery, which will help with funding bids and plans for exhibitions and workshops.
CWAC councillors have donated some funds to help, including Clr Julia Tickridge who said: “Regeneration isn’t 100 per cent retail led, it can’t be.
“This is the future.”
Anyone who can help VAC Gallery find a permanent town centre home, sponsor an exhibition or help support the group should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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