Around 200 people gathered outside the Ebrington Turner Prize gallery on Sunday to protest plans for the building to be turned into offices, housing and a digital hub. The protestors have demanded that it remain a multi-purpose art space.
Maoliosa Boyle, manager of the Void Art Gallery in the city said it would be “an absolutely huge mistake” if the venue’s use was changed. “People really need time to consider what the possibilities of the space now hold, the potential for the city, and really builders just cannot come in two weeks time, or whenever it’s planned and start taking apart this building which is an exceptional space,” she said. Viable space’
Filmmaker Jonathan Cummins said the building had “proven itself as a viable space and it should remain so”.”Almost 1,000 people visited the gallery on a daily basis. We have to look at how it has gone so far, why can’t it be sustainable? “A huge some of money has been spent on this building but what for? For it to be ripped down?”
A spokesperson for the protest stated; “Our small city became huge in 2013 – let’s not belittle ourselves in 2014. We built something beautiful during city of culture – let’s not rip the heart out of the spirit of 2013,” He added, “The momentum of 2013 could be lost without a permanent gallery space”.“The building of the gallery space in Ebrington at a cost of 2.5 million created a confluence of community. Without it, our fear is that Ebrington will become a lifeless space.“Contemporary art would thrive on this site. To maintain the excellence achieved in 2013 it needs the sustenance of the Ebrington gallery space.
The Turner Prize exhibition was staged in the former Army barracks at Ebrington from October. It was a highlight of Derry’s year as UK City of Culture in 2013.