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Keep Gracefield in situ says MSP

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By Fiona Reid
Dumfries and West
Keep Gracefield in situ says MSP

A POLITICIAN says Gracefield Arts Centre should continue in its current home in Dumfries.

MSP Joan McAlpine has made that call, as a consultation on arts provision in the town, which threatens to lead to Gracefield’s relocation, came to an end on Monday
Speaking after a guided tour of the arts facility on Edinburgh Road, Ms McAlpine said: “I would be deeply disappointed to see this facility closed and relocated unless it were to a purpose-built facility which enhanced the current offering — but that is not being proposed.”
A survey has been gathering public opinions to help Dumfries and Galloway Council make a decision next year on what is needed from a modern arts facility in Dumfries.
In February last year councillors agreed a cost-saving move lining up the Edinburgh Road arts facility to be packaged together with nearby council offices at Woodbank and Langlands School and sold as a prime development site.
Councillors agreed that an options appraisal should be carried out on alternative methods and locations for the facilities.
And Municipal Chambers in Buccleuch Street was judged a potential alternative location — despite being a Common Good property.
The move is expected to cost £8.5 million, but would exceed agreed savings of £335,000 by reaching a total of £495,100 by the end of 2019/20, over and above the £225,000 revenue savings from 2014/15.
Gracefield houses galleries suitable for national exhibitions, 600 pieces of fine art and a sculpture garden, and generates revenue streams through use of its rooms, studios and print studio facilities to let, classes, a cafe and shop.
And Ms McAlpine said: “While the current site has challenges, I would not like to see it shut.
“Closure of the arts centre could risks Dumfries having another magnificent 19 century building lying empty.”
She added: “I would favour council architects looking again at the site and finding a way of linking the two Gracefield buildings and enhancing the offering already there.”

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