The roof of Southampton City Art Gallery is leaking

Southampton may sell works to finance roof repairs

Gareth Harris, 27.11.2013
But council denies reports that collection sale could fund new arts complex
Southampton City Council says it plans to launch a fundraising programme to finance repair work at the City Art Gallery, but has not ruled out selling works from the municipal collection to raise the money.

The roof of the gallery is leaking and the air conditioning system is due for an overhaul.

Simon Letts, leader of Southampton City Council, said: "Options are being considered to raise the money to repair the art gallery roof. There will be a programme of fundraising activity.... there are currently no plans to sell any artwork but this may be considered as an absolute last resort.”

In February, the council approved budget cuts of £16m for 2013/14.

Letts also denied local press reports that Labour councillors plan to sell works from the collection to fund a new arts complex.

The £40m arts hub, which will incorporate City Eye, a film organisation, and the University of Southampton’s John Hansard Gallery, is expected to open in 2016.

The council has been awarded £7.3m by Arts Council England towards the arts complex as part of its National Lottery-funded Capital programme.

Earlier this year the council wrote a joint letter with Croydon Council to the culture minister Ed Vaizey asking him "to relax the rules regarding the sale of artworks to support or strengthen the collection".

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport declined to comment on the request but the council spokesman said that "the rules [regarding disposal] remain as they are".

This is not the first time Southampton City Council has proposed deaccessioning items. In 2010 it abandoned plans to sell two works from its collection to help finance the Sea City Museum, which opened last year.

The two works due to be sold were by the French sculptor Auguste Rodin and the British painter Sir Alfred Munnings.

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