Ebrington ‘may host gallery ... but not in Turner building’
The body behind the development of Ebrington Square has not ruled out a future gallery at the site, but says it is unlikely to be the building that housed the Turner Prize.
The Ilex Regeneration Company and the Office of First and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM have insisted that despite demands for the site to be retained as a gallery, it was originally developed as a digital hub which would create 50 jobs, and will ultimately fulfil that role.
Originally used as quarters for British soldiers in Londonderry, the building underwent an overhaul costing £2.5m, but Ilex said the funding was granted in order the space would be used as a creative industries centre.
A decision to use Building 80/81 for the Turner exhibition, which attracted 50,000 visitors, was made after no other viable option could be found and it was never intended that it would become a permanent gallery.
Ilex director Caoimhin Corrigan (below) said in response to the demand for a gallery within Ebrington, meetings have taken place with interested parties.
Mr Corrigan said: “In 2009, prior to Derry becoming the first ever UK City of Culture, Ilex was progressing a Creative Industries Hub at Buildings 80/81 on Ebrington.”
He added that after winning the City of Culture bid and following analysis with stakeholders, interim utilisation of Buildings 80/81 was identified as the only option to host the 2013 Turner Prize and that development of the hub would be phased to accommodate it.
“Based on this approach, Ilex secured funding of £2.5m for Buildings 80/81,” he said.
“This funding was secured to ensure completion of the creative industries hub. Of the total £2.5m investment made, only 20% is specific to gallery use for the period of the 2013 Turner Prize.
“The funding package was not secured for the development of a long-term gallery.”
Mr Corrigan continued: “Ilex is currently undertaking a new development framework to determine the future make-up of the 26 acres at Ebrington.
“Ilex is aware of the interest which has emerged, in the establishment of a new gallery at Ebrington, and has participated openly in meetings with interested parties in this regard.”
An OFMDFM spokeswoman said its aim was “to ensure the Ebrington site is sustainable and delivers the maximum benefits for the people of the north west through creating employment opportunities and building on the creative legacy of the City of Culture. OFMDFM is open to considering options from interested parties for gallery space which are supported by business cases.”
Story so far
The Turner exhibition was held in Londonderry as part of the inaugural UK City of Culture Year and was the first time the art competition was staged outside England. It closed on Sunday and the date was marked by a protest by campaigners who are demanding the former barracks is retained as a gallery. While it now seems unlikely that Building 80/81 will continue to be used, it is possible that a gallery sited in one of the remaining vacant buildings could be used.
Belfast Telegraph Digital