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Stephen Boyce would back selling artworks to fund cultural projects
The man in charge of raising millions of pounds to help fund Southampton ’s SeaCity attraction and dramatic new Arts Complex has revealed he is favour of selling off unwanted art work from the city’s massive collection.
Stephen Boyce, Chair of Culture Southampton, told the Daily Echo he would be supportive of selling some art from the extensive collection if it was identified as not relevant and money raised went for arts projects.
Mr Boyce was speaking before a reception to be held at 10 Downing Street tomorrow where business leaders will be introduced to the proposed Arts Complex that is planned to take shape on the site of the old Tyrrell & Green building and adjacent plots.
The Culture Southampton group have been tasked with raising some £2m of sponsorship to fill a spending gap in the budget for the £21m project which is due to start at the end of this year or early 2012 and to be completed by the year 2015.
Mr Boyce, who was formerly a member of the Heritage Lottery Fund Board, also revealed how thoughts are already turning to stage two of the SeaCity attraction which opened to rave reviews earlier this year.
No concrete proposals have yet been arrived at, he stressed, but the next phase of the attraction to be built in the mothballed former magistrates courts, would most likely focus on the links between Southampton and the sea looking into the future.
“There are only early thoughts, but while the present SeaCity looks at the links to Southampton’s maritime past, the next phase may well focus on the present day and the future,” he said.
The group has already been successful in raising £500,000 towards the cost of the SeaCity attraction which is still to be fully funded. But attention now turns to the giant Arts Complex which will start with City Council funding to ensure completion but must find other revenue to offset those costs.
Mr Boyce added that the group was working closely with both Southampton universities as well as the City College.
“It is about what goes on in the art spaces we will create, not just the buildings and spaces themselves,” he said. “We will have a fine cluster of buildings, but they must connect with the rest of the city.
“I hope that what we create will eventually become as exciting as the South Bank in London. Yes, it will be a challenge to raise the money in these difficult times, but we will do it. The time for Southampton has come.”
That future provided by an injection of culture for the city is one of the reasons Mr Boyce is not against the sale of some art work from the city’s 3,200-piece collection which is valued at some £180m. The former Tory administration set out to sell off a few items to raise £5m but were removed from office before the sale could take place.
A recent Daily Echo investigation revealed how city art curators had identified more artworks that they felt did not fit in with the collection and could be sold to raise arts money, as much as £7m. Mr Boyce told the Echo he saw no reason why that sale could not go ahead with the right safeguards.
“It is a personal view, but even when I was Deputy Director at the Heritage Lottery Fund I believed that if due process was followed and any money raised went towards art in the city then I didn’t have a problem then, nor now. But it is a political hot potato. Public opinion seems against the scheme, at least it is very vocal in some quarters.”