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Time to close Gracefield centre, says sculptor

By Rod Edgar
Dumfries and West
Time to close Gracefield centre, says sculptor

A SCULPTOR has called for the closure of the Gracefield Arts Centre in Dumfries — suggesting arts services could move to empty shops in the town.

Paul Cowan from Annan has hit out after failing to receive local authority support as he hosts two Czech Republic arts graduates through an European Union programme, teaching them real world skills.
Frustrated Paul said: “It could be an ongoing connection between our region and theirs — if I’d got any help from any of the arts organisations.

“But I’ve had no support whatsover.”

A case was made to the EU for artists Jan Pawlas and Eva Jancekova to visit, with its Erasmus programme providing living costs.

But with Paul hosting the pair for eight weeks, supplying arts materials as he teaches them skills such as carving in local sandstone and taking them to see art in Falkirk and Edinburgh, he said: “I’ve approached people in Dumfries and Galloway Council and the arts development and things like that, but nothing — absolutely nothing.”

Paul approached Gracefield Arts Centre on Edinburgh Road about the possibility of exhibiting their work.
But he was told there was no space, despite suggesting sculptures could be placed in its grounds.
Calling for an artists’ collective to take over the facility, Paul said: “Gracefield is this huge, big dominating building, but it’s got this air of being elite — and that’s something that runs through the whole of the arts.”

Dumfries and Galloway Council are currently considering the future of Gracefield, and the possibility of closing the building and relocating its services.

Should that happen, Paul said: “I think they should take over some of the empty shops in Dumfries. A gallery needs to be right in the centre of town.”

He added: “There are so many huge empty shops in Dumfries, and there must be some way they can take the money from Gracefield and put it into these shops on a long-term lease.

“It would regenerate the centre of the town as well. It would work for the arts and it would work for the High Street.”

Dumfries and Galloway Council say all of Gracefield’s exhibition space is fully booked for the next 12 to 18 months.

A spokesman said: “We work with local, national and international artists and organisations to ensure we have a broad range of exhibitions for visitors to come and see and clearly, this takes planning
and is sometimes organised years in advance.”

He said officers offered Mr Cowan alternatives for displaying work, but that requested contact details for the students have not been received.


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