Dozens of people took to the streets this week in support of the Bogside Artists’ ongoing campaign to keep their People’s Gallery open, while Derry City Council have vowed to continue in their support of the world-famous muralists.
Organised by community members the ‘dignified gathering’ called for action to help the muralists keep the gallery on Aggro Corner open.
The trio of muralists - brothers Tom and Will Kelly and Kevin Hasson - had been set to close their Rossville Street art gallery today after talks with their landlord.
In the past few weeks they have called on Derry City Council to help the major tourist attraction keep their doors open.
“We had people from all sides, every persuasion and none,” said Tom. “It was a dignified gathering of people, organised by themselves, that showed us that the community is behind us in our struggle to stay open. We truly appreciate that people cared enough about our gallery that they were willing to come out and stand on a cold, wet day to support us.
“We really appreciate the help and financial support that Derry City Council and others have given us over the last 17 years, however we need a sustainable grant to keep our doors open.”
A spokesperson for Derry City Council explained that Council has provided substantial financial contributions towards the restoration of murals and revenue assistance for the Bogside Artists over a five year period.
“For example,” he said. “During the period 01/10/04 and 15/12/08 support in the region of £107,186 and £2,500 for a Business Plan were provided while an additional £5,000 was provided as revenue support for the People’s Gallery in 2010, along with £1,500 towards the costs of varnishing the murals last year. This support was agreed on an ongoing basis and was outlined in the Development Department’s budget for 2011 -2012 and included in the section’s Economic Development Plan. The Council continues to work closely with the Bogside Artists providing curatorial and advisory support through its Heritage and Museum and Economic Development sections and fully acknowledges the importance of the murals and its role in telling the unique story of the city.
“Council hopes that its financial contribution of £5,000 this year can help the Museum remain open for the next few months allowing the artists further time to work with other funders on revenue support.
“Council would be happy to facilitate a meeting with other funders in addition to providing in kind support with business planning and curatorial advice.”