n Tantalus Project says it will stop using Floor One after ten years

Feature on Rugby Library.
Feature on Rugby Library.

AFTER ten years at Rugby’s Floor One Gallery a group of town artists have pulled out of the venue, blaming cuts and restrictions.

The Tantalus Project, which has dozens of members in and around the town, has decided it will no longer exhibit at the Floor One Gallery at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum following a recent review of the way the venue is run.

The gallery and museum used to be open late on Tuesdays and Thursdays - giving artists an opportunity to host free preview and promotional nights for their work. But since April, revised opening hours means that if artists want to use floor space outside of office hours, they have to hire it out at £40 per hour.

Tantalus members voted in favour of pulling out of the venue at a special meeting last week.

Pete Thornley, Tantalus Project spokesman, said: “The restrictions will particularly hit young and emerging artists and the fees charged for the facilities no longer give value for money. The project feels that limiting the opening hours significantly reduces artists’ opportunities to meet fellow artists, professionals and councillors who play an important part in furthering artistic careers.”

Mr Thornley said the group wants to make it clear the departure is targeted at decisions made by Rugby Borough Council (RBC) and not the staff at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum who they say continue to provide an ‘excellent’ service.

Mr Thornley, who said the group is now looking to open another gallery in town, added: “It is with regret the Tantalus Project has made this decision after ten years of working in partnership with the gallery and its officers. We feel the council should re-examine its ill-conceived cuts, particularly within the art gallery budget.

“Rugby is fortunate in having a premier art gallery and the actions of councillors could effectively remove any place of culture from our town.”

Cllr Heather Timms said the council had only offered free evening space for a short time and could not continue it for financial reasons.

“As part of our recent review of fees and charges we have allowed for a charge of £40 per hour should groups want to host a private viewing or other function, and this charge covers our essential costs. Groups are welcome to host special events during our opening hours for no additional fee.”