Hundreds of people demonstrated against the closure of the gallery that hosted the Turner Prize exhibition in Derry earlier this week.
The Save Ebrington campaign, orchestrated by local art galleries, has launched an online petition to stop the venue being turned into a “digital hub”.
“Considering the over-abundance of empty office space already in the city, and the potential cultural tourism attraction that this gallery could become, the city and its people would certainly lose a very valuable and culturally significant asset if we allow this to happen,” the petition states.
The campaigners also claim that “£2.5m of public money has been used to develop the buildings at Ebrington into state-of-the-art galleries”.
The Turner prize exhibition, which closed earlier this week, was on display at Ebrington in a newly converted venue, called Buildings 80/81, on the site of a former military barracks. It was the first year the exhibition had been held outside of England.
“Buildings 80/81 on Ebrington were purpose-built to provide the city with a digital/creative industries hub and were finished to a high standard to be able to meet the specific needs of those industries,” a spokeswoman for the Office of First and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) said.
In the absence of a venue to host the Turner Prize, ministers agreed the exhibition could be hosted in Buildings 80/81 on a temporary basis, she added.
Officials say they will consider alternative proposals for a gallery on the site.
“OFMDFM is open to considering options from interested parties for gallery space [at the Ebrington site] which are supported by business cases,” the spokeswoman said.
The Ilex Regeneration company, which is converting the building into the creative hub, told the Belfast Telegraph that it has held meetings with organisations interested in using the space.
The Turner Prize exhibition was a key feature of the UK City of Culture festival held last year in the city. The prize was won by French artistLaure Prouvost.
THIS TEXT WAS WRITTEN BY GARETH HARRIS FOR http://www.museumsassociation.org