Shock at Washington Gallery closure
4:20pm Thursday 21st February 2013 in News
PENARTH Arts and Crafts Ltd (PACL) has announced that the Washington Gallery is to cease trading at the end of March.
At an emergency meeting on Monday February 11 trustees of the local not-for-profit organisation – the driving force behind the Penarth Pier Pavilion renovation campaign – reluctantly agreed they could not save the Stanwell Road gallery and cafe, despite “tremendous efforts”.
But they also agreed that the decision would not in any way affect the restoration of the iconic Grade II listed pavilion due to open later this year.
Paul Twamley, chairman of PACL, said: “The restoration programme remains on track and the pavilion will open in October 2013 under the direction and control of the newly appointed pavilion director.”
Opened in 1998 under a 25-year lease with Robbik Property, PACL became a registered charity from the Washington Gallery in 2000.
Credited with showcasing thousands of artists over the last fifteen years, most of them Welsh, the gallery provided a strong art education programme for disadvantaged groups throughout the region, and won praise from the likes of renowned British art critic Brian Sewell and the late Tamara Krikorian, of Cywaith Cymru.
Mr Twamley said the closure would mark a “very sad day for the charity and Penarth”.
“I was appointed chair in 2012 and at the time was joined by many new board members,” he said.
“We set up a review of PACL’s funding and commercial foundations. The purpose of this was to establish a viable way forward. In spite of the tremendous efforts of our staff we have reluctantly conceded this has not been possible. The considerable cost of rent and other overheads has been a continued drain on the charity for a number of years. In common with many arts organisations the charity has also lost a number of support grants over the last few years and it has not been possible in the time available to re-secure those sources of income.”
In considering a report dealing with the gallery and cafe’s trading situation, the board was said to have explored a number of options at the meeting which might allow it to maintain the business in its current form.
But with “great reluctance” the unanimous view of the board members present was these would not secure the viability of the facilities.
A spokesperson for PACL said: “In coming to their decision the board was conscious that its obligations to staff and local suppliers are paramount.”
Mr Twamley thanked everyone who had supported the Washington over the years.
“I must also offer my strongest assurance that PACL will fulfil all its obligations to its suppliers and customers,” he added.
“An issue that was uppermost in our minds was that if we failed to act now there was a risk we might jeopardise our ability to meet these obligations.”
Dr David Trotman will assume his role as pavilion director starting March 4, 2013.
It is understood that many of the activities currently held at the Washington Gallery will be relocated to the Pier Pavilion.