Because they’re worth it

Next time Walsall Council leader Mike ‘Blofeld’ Bird or his two-hundred thousand pounds per year Chief Executive Paul Sheehan appear in the media preaching about hard times, corporate governance and their worth to the citizens of Walsall, reflect on this. The story linked below is an abridged version of a story in the Walsall Express & Star, of Wednesday, 8th December 2010. Whilst charmless Councillor Bird grimly warns us of the need to close our libraries, leisure centres and limit access to social care, the authority he leads has failed to wrap up a simple commercial contract worth a lot of money, whilst misplacing valuable works of art from a nationally important collection.

This is incompetence on a huge scale. If our civic leaders showed any sign of competence, we might be more amenable to their pleas of hardship; as it is, they look like monkeys, badly led by a hyena.

Walsall Art Gallery blunder

A coffee chain that opened a branch in The New Art Gallery Walsall got away without paying rent and utilities for years…

Read more at the Express & Star…

 

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16 Responses to Because they’re worth it

  1. Pablo Oplywiss says:

    My 7 year old knows what football stickers he’s missing, so when I read this I was speechless to read the Museum have little or inventory control!

  2. Andrew says:

    You are being unfair. The Art Collection is not nationally important. That statement is in the same category as carrots make you see in the dark, but it fooled the lottery people into giving £20,000,000 for the concrete block that serves free coffee to the franchise owner.

    A collection of sketches and sculpted heads that are not deemed good enough for the local council where the donor lived to accept is a more accurate description.

    And, the amazing thing is that the true statement is trumpeted in the Art Gallery. Walsall Council was in the recycling business long before green and brown bins were invented. Here is some tat – lets grab it. And then they complain about noises from bugles blown by tatters. The council started it!

  3. What arrant nonsense.

    Bob

  4. Mark Blackstock says:

    No Andrew, you are simply wrong. The collection of art works at the New Art Gallery Walsall represents a wide range of important artists across many different periods and genres. This is quite remarkable for a small town such as Walsall which is nationally acknowledged for having an important permanent collection. Furthermore, it is nationally recognised for mounting important contemporary shows.

    • Blocksidge Mon says:

      A ‘small town’ of a quarter of a million people and larger than the capital city of Iceland?

      What exactly constitutes a large town?

      • To be fair, Walsall is relatively small when compared with other conurbations in the UK, and comparison to Iceland is a bit specious as there’s next to nobody there. Of course, it’s been busier since all the mums started going there.

        I think what Mark meant was that we were quite provincial to be beneficiaries of such a collection. It’s odd to find such a collection outside major cities and we should be exploiting it more.

        Best wishes

        Bob

        • Blocksidge Mon says:

          Fair points.

          Perhaps Nicosia might have been a better example, but alas my mother has never been.

          I just can’t agree with the ‘how lucky ickle Walsall is to have anything’ type attitude when we are so thoroughly deprived of the cultural facilities (theatres, concert halls, cinemas, proper museums etc.) that are taken for granted in towns a quarter of the size.

          I’ve heard the ‘small town’ or ‘six little towns’ (even Stoke on Trent knows that it is economic suicide to use that one) excuse so many times. It usually emanates from those who should be, but aren’t, providing any of the services or promotion that a major town has a right to expect. The key players at the council are not on small town wages.

          We should of course exploit the collection more and use it to put Walsall back on the map – it would need to form part of a package of attractions (plus a seismic attitude shift at the council) to have any real economic benefit though.

          Great article as per usual BTW.

  5. Andrew says:

    Mark – the contemporary shows are not the collection.

    Bob – the collection is the stuff that no one else wanted; geegaws and trinkets accepted in gratitude by adoring recipents. The collection strategy is not present; the display programme is not present and the marketing is not obvious. Yes, there are some Cezanne sketches and doodles and some Epstein heads. Are they the best examples of the artist and/or genre? If they are why not sell them and save some services – or even regenerate Brownhills.

    And the connection with Walsall? Well, the donor did know a previous mayor in 1973 and that was useful for when Wednesbury said “we don’t want this stuff so don’t give it us”

    I have tried to verify this by use of the Epstein page on the gallery web-site but that comes up with a nice heading and one word “error”.

    • Andrew

      Please do not insult my intelligence. I know much about the Garman-Ryan collection, by the looks of it way more than you. I can well tell the difference between contemporary shows and one of the most significant art collections in the UK.

      Epstein remains a revolutionary and crucially important artistic figure. We have one of the largest, most complete collections of his work here in Walsall. The remainder of the collection includes highly significant works by a wide variety of artists. We in Walsall are lucky to have it. To dismiss them as ‘geegaws’ stinks of the arrogance of ignorance.

      Your attitude is poisonous, and not dissimilar to the idiots in power, who’d sell their collective grannies for thruppence. Culture – be it libraries, art or music, isn’t there to be sold off when times get hard. We are the custodians of these things. I can’t make up my mind at times if you’re just wilfully ignorant or trying to be controversial for attention.

      The facility draws in visitors from far and wide. I couldn’t give a toss whether Wednesbury refused it or not, I love the work and, like the other cultural facilities of Wasall, I will defend it to the end.

      Bob

  6. stymaster says:

    The quality or not of the Garman-Ryan collection aside (as a comparative phillistine, I’m not in a position to comment, beyond reading that the collection is nationally important in several sources), the failure to handle the contract for Costa is just rank imcompetence, the kind of thing that loses several million quid.

    The loss of some works is hardly good news, but I’d take a guess that staffing has been cut, someone cut corners on a procedure (“I don’t care about the inventory, just do it”),and all of a sudden, things get lost.

    • martin says:

      Got it in one!
      The council operates on the dim and archaic principle that only one person does a particular job.
      When said person is off (sick?) the job doesn’t get done because to pass the duties to another would threaten the postholder’s job. And someone else might be better at it, but that’s another can of worms.

      While we’re at it, what happened to the £52631 from the Department of Communities dished out last December to help run down high streets? Anyone see any of that? Thought not.
      (just google DCLG empty shops initiative and see what come up)

  7. Andrew says:

    Ignornant I may be and that is probably because I cannot see the ‘art’ in a display of knotted tampons hung from the ceiling. Cllr Anson could not either.

    • Andrew

      Now who’s confusing visiting displays with the main collection?

      I wasn’t aware Councillor Anson was the great arbiter of all things tasteful. I’ll bear that in mind in future.

      One of the functions of art is to shock and provoke reaction.

      Bob

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