10:14am Friday 21st March 2014
By Gina Bebbington
A HUB for mid Cheshire artists will finally close its doors in April because volunteers cannot afford the rent.
But the valiant fight to keep the Visual Arts Cheshire (VAC) Gallery in Northwich town centre is not over.
Alan Carr, from VAC's committee, said the group may not be able to keep the current venue, in Brunner Court, but was determined to find an alternative.
“We want to continue to operate virtually by the website and Facebook,” he said.
“Behind the scenes we will be doing what we can to attract funding and find other properties.
“We'll maybe even run workshops when we can find venues that won't charge us much – we want to continue to do things.”
The gallery was given a new lease of life in February when landlord Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) agreed VAC could have a three-month extension to its lease at a reduced rent of 25 per cent.
This followed extensive lobbying by supporters of the gallery, which has had premises in the town centre for 15 months.
Within that time VAC has held 16 exhibitions, countless art workshops and run projects like Dress a Girl Around the world, which saw the community make more than 300 dresses for children living in poverty overseas.
It’s current 20x20 exhibition has attracted around 300 pieces of art by the community, which are on display until March 29.
The lease expires on April 8.
Alan said: “We're not in a position at the moment to be able to say we can definitely cover three months of quarter rent so on that basis we’re not going to ask the council if we can renew.
“With rent, rates and services it’s £700 a month to stay here, but that’s more money than we can pull in.”
VAC’s committee will now turn its focus to funding opportunities.
“We’re going to take some time off to pursue funding applications,” Alan said.
“There aren’t enough of us to be able to devote the time we need to devote to seeking funds from bodies such as the arts council, and that application process is quite intensive.
“If we’re not running the gallery we can spend a month or two on that.”
For more information about VAC visit visualartscheshire.blogspot.co.uk
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