Lincolnshire County Council has rejected an offer made by City of Lincoln Council for free accommodation in the city in order to help save Lincoln’s much-loved Usher Gallery.
In an attempt by City of Lincoln Council to find a way forward on the future of the Usher Art Gallery, it offered free accommodation for Lincolnshire County Council’s registration services at City Hall.
Despite the county council originally claiming that the reason for wishing to close the Usher Art Gallery as a gallery was the need to save money and locate their Births, Marriages and Deaths registration service at the gallery, it has rejected the offer.
The county council has indicated that the Usher Art gallery has become unfit for purpose and do not see it forming part of its ‘vision for the future of cultural and heritage services’.
The Usher Gallery, which is owned by City of Lincoln Council and leased to the county council, is a valued asset for the city, which brings tourists to Lincoln each year and was built to house pieces of art and historical artefacts bequeathed to the city by the late James Usher in 1927.
Cllr Ric Metcalfe, Leader of City of Lincoln Council has expressed extreme disappointment at the county council’s response to the city council’s offer which was motivated by trying to create a win-win, offering the county council the saving it was looking for, while retaining the whole of the Usher Art Gallery for the purpose in which it was always intended.
He said: “Lincolnshire County Council has a long-term lease to operate the Usher Gallery in its entirety as a gallery for the benefit of people living and visiting the city.
“This is a long term contractual commitment on the part of the county council. If they do choose to close the Usher Gallery, this will be a tragedy for the city, it will put into jeopardy possible future investment from national bodies for both the Usher and The Collection and could damage the reputation of the county council for some time to come.
“We understand the county council wishes to use the Usher Gallery as a wedding venue and we remain willing to explore the potential for this, but at a scale that does not detract from the building continuing to function as primarily an arts venue across both floors of the building.”