Visitor numbers will not improve

I NOTE the decision by the Jerwood organisation to charge locals an extra 50 per cent fee for admission to the art store on The Stade at Hastings and do not think this will do anything to improve on visitor numbers that the consultants projected to be - 150,000 each year downgraded from 200,000 after it was announced it was to be pay to enter because of claimed VAT reasons.

In its launch year, 2012, the Jerwood only managed to achieve a total of 65,000 visitors from all locations including school children and concessions at a time when stated reasons for fewer expected visitors were, poor weather, 2012 Olympics, and a Diamond Jubilee.

The free admission evening from 4pm to 8pm on the first Tuesday each month for all types of visitor may do something to boost the number of people coming to see the modern art from outside Hastings for free one day each month but needs to be considered alongside the 50% increase for those living in the town.

The gallery is subsidised by free land and waiver of tax responsibility that the council has covenanted for the next 98 years.

This gift of prime real estate is at a time while the council like other local councils looks around at bits of land to sell in the hope of bringing in a little cash to help balance the books and includes the sale of local heritage in the form of historic vehicle registration DY1.

The Jerwood might achieve an increased number of visits if they actually stayed open during the whole year instead of closing the entire building to visitors for extended periods during rehanging such as the closure during July 11 to 19.

These periodic closures for each rehang might not trouble the Jerwood organisation which now has the free the use of land for a building as a store for its pictures for the next 98 years but it must be of some embarrassment to Hastings Borough Council which hoped for 77.4 jobs generated on the expectation that there would be some 99,500 non-resident visitors each year and now probably a few less resident visitors, many on low pay and zero hours contracts.


Lower Park Road