Turning down arts venue idea ‘an opportunity wasted’

THE rejected plans to create an iconic art venue in the Guernsey Information Centre is an opportunity wasted, according to a long-serving St Peter Port politician.

By Helen Bowditch 
News reporter

(Picture by Peter Frankland, 25164306)

John Gollop said the proposal had been on a global scale and had sought to put Guernsey on both a cultural and tourist map.

Policy & Resources president Deputy Gavin St Pier has said the project’s need for States funding, combined with the practicalities of making the building work for this purpose, meant a rebuff of this proposal.

‘Nevertheless at least the seafront enhancement team acknowledges the importance of art,’ said Deputy Gollop.

‘They obviously saw the highly constructive dialogue as a stepping stone and we are confident medium term that an art venue will be a central feature of the proposed east coast development. But it was a short term win lost.’

While president of the Development & Planning Authority, he said he had felt obliged to keep a low profile on the issue particularly given that the DPA is lead committee on the seafront agenda.

Yet as a Town deputy of some 22 years was neither mandated or invited to serve in any way in this project quango executive branch board.

The building had been a greenhouse art gallery, a tourism centre, an arts commission HQ, a currency exchange bureau and now a tourist office as well as a finance office. Many of those uses were quite odd.

‘It is arguably crazy to have the discretion of the Probation Service in such an expensive and high visible location and I recall only a few years back a senior officer of the civil service wanted to sell the whole office. The premises could be used for other purposes but space for bureaucracy was a waste of talent.

‘Guernsey needs to support art seriously with a capital A,’ said Deputy Gollop. ‘It should be more courageous in both moving upmarket, raising the game and being both bolder and wiser in supporting the tastes and ideas of the emerging younger generations and viewpoints of a more diverse and multicultural community that is looking for different things too.

‘I have no vested interests or stake in any of the projects but am looking for greater vision and progress on many fronts.’

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