This Thursday there will be a full Council meeting in the Civic Offices at 7pm where one of the items on the agenda will be a consideration of the petition 'Save Swindon Museum and Art Gallery' which was signed by over 4000 people. A reminder of what we said when the petition was started:
'We support the call by the Friends of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery for the Swindon Collection of Modern British Art and the Museum Collections to be retained on show in Apsley House until they can be moved to a new home where they are on show to the public.
We believe that the dispersal and mothballing of the collections would be highly damaging to Swindon’s bid for City status.
We reject the recommendations in the Cabinet Member Decision Note and call for a further report to be produced setting out all the options for the future of the collections and of Apsley House, for all funding opportunities to be investigated, and for a debate to be held in full Council before any decisions are made'.
A further report was published setting out the options for the future of SMAG on 1 September, although there weren't any options; a reminder of what was in this second report can be seen by following this link:
Before the Scrutiny meeting we had a photo taken of the assembled people, and many came in to follow proceedings at the meeting on 13 September, they asked questions, and it seemed as though the council might be persuaded that reopening Apsley House in the interim before the new cultural quarter is built, but they weren't. Here's the photo taken before the Scrutiny meeting:
It would be great to have as many people as possible to come and support the reopening of Apsley House on Thursday evening. We are gathering at 6.40pm outside the Civic Offices, you don't need to come to the meeting, but it would be great if you could be there.
South Swindon Parish Council have submitted a proposal to reopen SMAG, here it is:
To investigate the opportunity for South Swindon Parish Council (SSPC) to amalgamate the Old Town Library service with the museum and art gallery based in Apsley House
2. Report Details
2.1 Swindon Borough Council (SBC) have articulated their desire to dispose of Apsley House as a Borough Council asset.
2.2 SBC have announced that the Museum and Art gallery provision will not reopen within Apsley House and had initially proposed placing artefacts, displays and artwork in storage until such time as a new facility is ready in the proposed cultural quarter, post 2028.
2.3 Robust public opposition to the SBC proposal has seen a policy repositioning with regards to the accessibility of artifacts, displays and artwork . SBC have articulated that the 1st floor of the Civic building may be an alternative temporary location, subject to a feasibility study and budgetary / elected member scrutiny.
2.4 SSPC is proposing that discussion commence with SBC to investigate the feasibility of:
- The Apsley House asset to be transferred to SSPC on a short term lease of between 7 and 10 years, The transfer to include £400K transitional fund currently reserved for Apsley House in order to complete current listed repairs and help maintain the building for the duration of the short term lease, with an option of an additional £100K based on survey results.
- SSPC incorporating the Old Town Library Provision into Apsley House, therefore increasing footfall, utilising current Library staff and providing a revenue saving to the Parish in vacating the current premises
2.5 It is the stated aim of SSPC through this proposal to work towards ensuring that Swindon has a functioning Art Gallery and Museum accessible to the people of Swindon and visitors to our town, whilst the Borough Council moves forward with aspirations to build a cultural quarter that would include an improved Art Gallery and Museum facility.
2.6 SSPC would envisage that the Library provision is mainly housed in the two ground floor front rooms of Apsley House with strategic bookcase deployment, integrating book selection relevant to the exhibit subject matter. It should be noted that these rooms are currently not part of the museum display offering.
2.7 South Swindon Parish Council would be better placed to apply for grants through various channels to contribute to the running costs of the facility in the medium term.
2.8 It would be understood that the exhibits remain the property of Swindon Borough Council.
2.9 If consensus is achieved to move forward with the above proposal, the asset transfer would be subject to the completion of a full building survey and condition report.
2.10 SSPC and SBC should seek to include The Friends of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery in discussions
3. Proposal3.1 That the Parish Council resolves to inform SBC of an expression of interest from the Parish Council pertaining to the potential short term transfer of Apsley House for the purpose of re-opening the facility to the public at the earliest convenience