Like many, Colchester Borough Council has been shocked and saddened by the recent announcement that the Minories is to close following Colchester Institute’s decision to step away from the much-loved art gallery.
The council has long been committed to supporting local Arts and Culture forthe special contribution they make to a diverse and inclusive community. Whether through its involvement in the development of the creative and cultural sector with investments in Firstsite, 37 Queen Street, the Mercury Theatre and the Colchester Arts Centre, or with its contribution to several other programmes, including ultrafast broadband, that help support creative businesses and organisations in the borough.
The council does not own the Minories and is therefore unable to decide how it is to be used in the future or who any new tenants might be. That decision, and any future lease arrangements, will be taken by the Victor Batte-Lay Trust and the Colchester Institute.
The council understands and fully supports the outpouring of public affection for the Minories and very much hopes a vibrant, inclusive, creative use can be found for the building as soon as possible. We remain committed to working with all partners in the St Botolph’s Cultural Quarter to create a welcoming cultural hub for residents and visitors to enjoy, and very much hope a tenant who shares these aims can soon be found.
Cllr Julie Young, Portfolio Holder for Culture & Performance and Deputy Leader of the Council, said: “Losing the Minories is a major blow to our Arts and Culture, which is why we will continue to do what we can as a council to ensure the building is cherished, valued and protected both for its contribution to a vibrant and prosperous town centre and for future generations.
“While the coronavirus crisis may well have played a part in the decision to close the gallery, it also serves to remind us that the Arts and Culture must be invested in after we return to normal – not just for the obvious reason that they enrich our lives, but because of the significant economic contribution they make to Colchester as the creative capital of Essex.”