It came in the form of a press release announcement on 16 April but we can now report that Artsway, the New Forest gallery that mounted an ambitious program of exhibitions and residences, is to fold. The release stated; “After thorough consideration of all options for the future, ArtSway will regretfully be closing its gallery operation in Sway on 31st July 2012”.
During the last year, since notification that the organisation was not included in the Arts Council National Portfolio from April 2012 onwards, staff and trustees have explored other potential long term sources of funding, uses of the gallery and the most cost-effective ways of delivering educational services. In addition to these efforts the organisation has undergone two separate organisational reviews, completed by external consultants supported by Arts Council England. Regrettably, a sustainable solution has not been found and the Trustees, mindful of financial and reputational risk, as well as their duty of care to the staff, have taken the decision that the operation in Sway must cease.
The Education and Outreach programme will continue until 2nd June 2012. Staff and Trustees will host discussions with partnership organisations, freelance staff and other potential benefactors to enable transfer and continuation of education/outreach provision where possible. The artists’ studios in the ArtSway grounds will continue for the foreseeable future.
For 15 years ArtSway has been committed to excellence in the Arts and has delivered a dynamic engagement programme that has engaged and benefitted a variety of audiences. It has made a significant contribution to the professional development of many artists, as well as the enjoyment and wellbeing of adults and children alike. To preserve this legacy all relevant data that tracks the historical journey of ArtSway will be archived. We hope that this archive will be available online for all to access in the future.
Peter Jones, Chair of the Trustees, said: “The Trustees would like to thank all who have helped and supported ArtSway through its years of successful operation. Our thanks also go to the hardworking and dedicated staff who have kept the ArtSway programme of activity alive and relevant through some very difficult times.” ArtSway’s three significant funders – Arts Council England South East, Hampshire County Council and New Forest District Council – have all been consulted and have been responsive to the problems the organisation has faced.
The ArtSway ‘brand’ will be retained by the Trustees while future possibilities continue to be explored.