So you strive to bring life back to a blighted and benighted city. A city that has struggled with its past reputation. You recognise rightly that art and culture can play a huge part in reinvigorating a community. That art can actively change people’s perceptions of a place particularly those from other countries. You spend an alleged £2.5 million converting a military barracks into a suitable gallery space. You then manage to persuade a significant artistic award to uproot for the first time in its history and decamp for several months to your city. As a result you garner kudos, praise, endless media coverage and most importantly thousands of visitors through your doors to engage with the exhibits. Other writers, artists and cultural commentators descend on your town to declare a new dawn. The event is a success and ends its exhibition period with a popular winner drawn from the exhibits. So how to capitalise on this positivism? What possibilities are now open to you! Well instead you decide to close the doors of the venue as an art space. You decide not to proceed with further art exhibitions.
Such is the story with the recent Turner Prize Exhibition, which was on show at the Ebrington buildings in Derry. For the first time in its history the infamous art prize left the safe confines of London’s art world. Now the powers-that-be have failed to capitalise on the impetus this gave to the city. The buildings used for the exhibition will become an empty space with electric power sockets and Internet connections. Or a ‘Creative Hub’, which apparently is the technical term for such spaces.