Protesters call for Newport art exhibitions to stay
CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save temporary art exhibitions at the museum and art gallery held a colourful protest in Newport yesterday.
Around 60 protesters armed with colourful banners and joined by two giant puppets, normally seen parading at the Maindee festival, gathered in John Frost Square to persuade the Newport City Council to reverse its decision to axe temporary exhibitions.
The crowd chanted “arts for all” and “save our arts”
with one banner proclaiming “No gallery. No Museum. No Library. No Ship. No Idea.”
But the council has stressed those services will not be cut, saying that at most services will be moved to the Newport Centre and Riverfront.
Professional artist Neil McNally, one of the organisers of the protest, said: “I think it’s been a good turnout for a weekday.
“Arts are obviously important to a city, at the very least they are bringing people into Newport, which considering there are barely in shops left not, much else is doing.”
Art blogger Emma Geliot agreed: “Exhibitions are one of the few things bringing people into the city centre.
“Elsewhere in the UK the arts are being used as part of their regeneration plans but here they are being neglected.
“The gallery has been a meeting point for people and it brings money in. If you think the museum and gallery last year attracted around 28,000 visitors, they wouldn’t have to spend a lot to cover the cost of this cut in investment into the city.
“It just makes me want to weep at the moment.”
Simon Fenoulhet, senior lecturer in fine art at the University of Wales, Newport, said: “We often tell our stories through pictures.
The collection the museum has built up is a really interesting survey of how the Gwent valleys has changed.
“We understand there are difficult choices to be made and I wouldn’t want to be a councillor at this time, but we don’t think this is a very civilised decision.”