Feb 23 2011 by Gregor White, Stirling Observer Wednesday
THE Stirling Smith has emerged as one of the big winners in the council budget process after the approval of a massive funding boost.
Core funding for the gallery has been increased by a quarter, with an extra £50,000 taking the amount the gallery will receive to £246,000.
Funding specifically for the gallery's education service has also been reinstated, with £20,000 a year allowing it to once again employ an educational officer.
The council has also agreed support of up to £200,000 a year over the next three financial years as match funding and to top up any external grants the gallery is able to secure for the redevelopment of the building.
Last August the gallery was forced to axe the post of exhibitions organiser, having already lost its education officer, graphic designer and technician.
That left the institution with just two professional staff – its curator and director – and the chairman of the trustees, Councillor Colin O’Brien, said it was losing £1000 a week.
He said the Smith had experienced a real terms drop in core funding of 20 per cent since local government reorganisation in the 1990s.
In October there was another blow when a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for major refurbishment work, believed to be in the region of £4 million, was turned down.
This week, however, Mr O'Brien said the new funding boost was wonderful news that “maintains the viability of the trust and keeps the treasures of the Smith available for the people of Stirling and the surrounding community”.
He said: “On behalf of my fellow trustees I pay tribute to my colleagues at the council for the full cross-party support this has received and thank all concerned, including the chief executive Bob Jack and the administration, for this vote of confidence in the future of the Stirling Smith.
“This is a very difficult time for the council to increase any expenditure, faced with the need to make cutbacks in so many other areas.
“This budget increase is quite exceptional and we are all the more appreciative as a result.
“After a difficult few years the gallery can now move forward again with confidence.
“We are preparing to launch a major fundraising appeal in the spring and look forward to developing the Stirling Smith further for its role at the heart of our community in the 21st century.
“I am particularly pleased that we can engage more fully again with education and young people, adding to the excellent work being done by our team of volunteers.”
A fundraising auction will be held at the Smith this Saturday. Admission is £1, with viewing from 10.30am and the auction starting at 11.45am. David Leggat of United Auctions will be the man with the gavel.