Southampton City Council will sell art despite protests

Daily Echo: Council 'will go ahead with art sale' Council 'will go ahead with art sale'

THEIR protests were loud and emphatic but in the end fell on deaf ears as Southampton councillors voted to press ahead with controversial plans to sell off pieces of the city’s prized art collection.

Waving banners and placards, about 80 campaigners noisily demanded that civic chiefs rethink proposals to raise funds for a new heritage museum by selling masterpieces.

Civic bosses were also handed a 2,500-name petition calling on them to halt the plans.

Among the protesters was art lover Keith Hatter, 62, from Winchester, who suffers from progressive blindness and regularly enjoys tours of the City Art Gallery for the visually impaired. The touch tours give him an opportunity to feel works, such as Rodin’s Eve and Crouching Woman sculptures – which both could be sold – so that he too can enjoy masterpieces.

He said: “The sculptures are wonderful pieces and they give me an opportunity to experience body language.

Without them it is an experience I will never have again.”

Demonstration organiser Les Buckingham, curator of Solent University’s Millais Gallery, said: “The city council is selling something that does not actually belong to them, they have got no right to sell it.”

Protester Sue Anderson, from Southampton, said: “I don’t want to see public works of art sold for a tourist attraction.

We don’t feel the council has a right to break the restrictions that protect these works of art.”

Despite being met by the wall of protest, councillors decided to vote in favour of pushing ahead with selling off the works and using the money to pay for a heritage centre.

They hope to find a third of the £15m cost by disposing of works by Alfred Munnings and Auguste Rodin.

Cabinet member for leisure Cllr John Hannides said that there is “no alternative”

to selling art to pay for the Sea City museum, which would also include extra art exhibition space forming part of the city’s planned cultural quarter.

The debate saw objections raised by opposition councillors.

Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Jill Baston said: “Two-and-a-half thousand signatures to a petition is quite a good response. This is not just a vocal minority – they are the best informed and the ones who really care.”

Labour councillor Matt Stevens said: “We do support the idea of the cultural quarter and the exhibition space, but what we’re concerned about is that this is the only way to finance it.”

Cllr Hannides said that despite the petition there was widespread support for the sale.

However, councillors on the ruling Conservative group voted in favour of asking the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, for permission to dispose of the two pieces of art.

Because the council wants to use the proceeds to fund the new museum and not to buy new art, its lawyers believe that her consent is needed as her position holds an historic role as the representative of public interest.

Comments (15)

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5:44pm Thu 17 Sep 09

ex plodicus says...

a petition with 2500 names on was handed in! what is the population of southampton? says a lot doesnt it.
there are not many people who want to keep this so called art! only a priveledged few.
a petition with 2500 names on was handed in! what is the population of southampton? says a lot doesnt it. there are not many people who want to keep this so called art! only a priveledged few. ex plodicus

6:09pm Thu 17 Sep 09

Swalk says...

That's 2,500 more than have put their names to any document saying they want the art to be sold. A challenge to Councillor Hannides - find 2,500 people to support you
That's 2,500 more than have put their names to any document saying they want the art to be sold. A challenge to Councillor Hannides - find 2,500 people to support you Swalk

6:14pm Thu 17 Sep 09

ex plodicus says...

i have 3 thousand friends! we do not like taxpayers money spent on a few priveledged people, if you like it so much go to the auction and buy it.
i have 3 thousand friends! we do not like taxpayers money spent on a few priveledged people, if you like it so much go to the auction and buy it. ex plodicus

6:39pm Thu 17 Sep 09

Jammy Donut says...

Don't sell the pictures and don't build another half hearted jerry built
shed......does one feel that Cllr John Hannides is trying single handedly to get his revenge for UK stealing the Elgin Marbles
Don't sell the pictures and don't build another half hearted jerry built shed......does one feel that Cllr John Hannides is trying single handedly to get his revenge for UK stealing the Elgin Marbles Jammy Donut

7:20pm Thu 17 Sep 09

ex plodicus says...

as 10cc once sang, art for arts sake, money for gods sake. i say oh ffs.
as 10cc once sang, art for arts sake, money for gods sake. i say oh ffs. ex plodicus

7:41pm Thu 17 Sep 09

MrGMan says...

5 comments out of thousands of readers tells its own story.
5 comments out of thousands of readers tells its own story. MrGMan

7:55pm Thu 17 Sep 09

Plondon says...

Yeah lets sell all the art in the middle of a recession! Great Thinking........Dumb C$@T's
Yeah lets sell all the art in the middle of a recession! Great Thinking........Dumb C$@T's Plondon

8:31pm Thu 17 Sep 09

Swalk says...

Taxpayers' money isn't spent on art for the gallery - it comes from money bequeathed in wills specifically for the purpose. So much disinformation on here...
Taxpayers' money isn't spent on art for the gallery - it comes from money bequeathed in wills specifically for the purpose. So much disinformation on here... Swalk

12:22am Fri 18 Sep 09

Dave Juson says...

To be fair, most of the comment above is better informed than the Council vote and the Echo editorial comment.
To be fair, most of the comment above is better informed than the Council vote and the Echo editorial comment. Dave Juson

7:53am Fri 18 Sep 09

Night Mare says...

Shameful! I hope the Attorney General refuses permission.
Shameful! I hope the Attorney General refuses permission. Night Mare

8:40am Fri 18 Sep 09

Pam W says...

I hope she's shocked when she sees the loophole that the council is trying to exploit (which has not been publicised by the echo). come on echo, tell the full story about their little scheme
I hope she's shocked when she sees the loophole that the council is trying to exploit (which has not been publicised by the echo). come on echo, tell the full story about their little scheme Pam W

8:43am Fri 18 Sep 09

Adrian-Smith says...

I could get 2,500 to sign a petition supporting free healthcare for pet snakes - if I knocked on the right doors on the right housing estates.

The Council need to be careful not to sell works where they have no right - perhaps many of the gifts to the City.

Otherwise lease it out - because in a recession you seldom get the best price.
I could get 2,500 to sign a petition supporting free healthcare for pet snakes - if I knocked on the right doors on the right housing estates. The Council need to be careful not to sell works where they have no right - perhaps many of the gifts to the City. Otherwise lease it out - because in a recession you seldom get the best price. Adrian-Smith

8:56am Fri 18 Sep 09

Pam W says...

one day hopefully the echo will report what the council are really trying to do, and why they need to consult the attorney general about it, unfortunately they haven't mentioned it to the rest of us yet.
but the truth will get out in the end
one day hopefully the echo will report what the council are really trying to do, and why they need to consult the attorney general about it, unfortunately they haven't mentioned it to the rest of us yet. but the truth will get out in the end Pam W

10:10am Fri 18 Sep 09

stuartjebbitt says...

a Titanic Tourist Attraction?
It's an insult to the poor souls who lost their lives in the North Atlantic - what next? a 7/7 bombings burger bar? black hole of Calcutta adventure park? Lockerbie hijack world?
the Rodin is a breathtakingly beautiful sculpture (as you'd expect) and the Munnings? well the greatest equestrian artist of all time. Philistines!!
a pathetic attempt to compete with the Historic dockyard at Portsmouth.
Future generations will regret this sale, and wonder at our crass stupidity
a Titanic Tourist Attraction? It's an insult to the poor souls who lost their lives in the North Atlantic - what next? a 7/7 bombings burger bar? black hole of Calcutta adventure park? Lockerbie hijack world? the Rodin is a breathtakingly beautiful sculpture (as you'd expect) and the Munnings? well the greatest equestrian artist of all time. Philistines!! a pathetic attempt to compete with the Historic dockyard at Portsmouth. Future generations will regret this sale, and wonder at our crass stupidity stuartjebbitt

12:13pm Mon 21 Sep 09

mr_lee_white@hotmail.com says...

Time for a vote of no confidence in our council leaders I believe. If they're capable of the short sight to screw this up, what chance have we got of the redevelopment of the Town Quay Pier area and fighting off the Liverpool Liner Terminal bid ... none!
Time for a vote of no confidence in our council leaders I believe. If they're capable of the short sight to screw this up, what chance have we got of the redevelopment of the Town Quay Pier area and fighting off the Liverpool Liner Terminal bid ... none! mr_lee_white@hotmail.com

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