Ask Eastbourne Borough Council's Leader to protect Towner Art Gallery's future

Eastbourne Borough Council (EBC) is planning to cut its funding of Towner Art Gallery by 50%. The cuts will start in April 2018 with an initial 33% reduction followed by incremental cuts each year thereafter towards a 50% disinvestment within 4 years. We need your help to persuade the Council to reconsider its decision.

Towner was founded as ‘an art gallery for the people’ in 1922. It attracts 150,000 visitors a year and makes an important cultural and social contribution to Eastbourne and the surrounding area. The cuts follow the Council’s recent commitment to Towner’s new status as an independent charitable trust in 2014, and as EBC invests £44 million in Devonshire Quarter, a cultural, sporting and conference facility next to the gallery.

The initial cut would have a serious impact on the gallery. We would have to reduce our exhibitions and events and there would inevitably be redundancies. Our Learning Programme, which last year worked with more than 10,000 people, including 8000 children and 70 schools, would be lost unless we can secure philanthropic funding.  The programme works with people of all ages and backgrounds, including some of the most vulnerable groups in our community - adults and children with mental health conditions and people living with dementia and memory loss.

Higher level cuts could jeopardise the existence of the gallery for future generations. 

As Towner’s biggest stakeholder, EBC currently invests £614,000 every year in the exhibition and learning programme, and maintaining the gallery building with its permanent collection of over 5,000 historical, modern and contemporary artworks. The initial 33% cut would leave us with a grant of around £400,000 of which £300,000 would be spent simply running and maintaining the council’s building and collection on their behalf.  This regrettably means that our exhibitions and learning programmes would have to bear the brunt of the cuts. As well as the social impact of the loss of these programmes there would also be an economic impact caused by the inevitable drop in visitor figures. Our visitors come to the gallery year round and provide real economic benefit for the town. A recent study showed that for every £1 of public funding we receive Towner generates £2.10 for the local economy.

Please help us by entering your postcode below. This will generate a model email addressed to the Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council and, if you live in Eastbourne or neighbouring constituencies, your local MP. You can edit the email and add your own words if you wish.

In addition, you can help by talking to people about the cut and by sharing your views on social media using the hashtag #SupportTowner