Controversial sculpture centre plan is a 'no-brainer', says Bury Council culture boss

Prestwich and Whitefield Guide: Tony Trehy at the proposed new sculpture centre Tony Trehy at the proposed new sculpture centre

Plans for a controversial sculpture centre in Bury Library are a “no-brainer” because of the economic benefits it will bring the town, according to a culture chief.

Tony Trehy, who works for Bury Council as arts and museums manager, says the development, which is set to open in May, will make Bury the envy of the artistic world, and attract visitors from around the globe.

The installation of the sculpture centre will see the ground floor layout of the building in Manchester Road altered, with some of the library space removed to make way for the centre, which has sparked criticism from councillors and library-users.

The sculpture centre requires a one-off capital investment of £75,000 from the council to cover the cost of adaptations to the building, and has received a £27,000 grant from Arts Council England.

However Mr Trehy, who has worked in Bury for the past 20 years, says the plans will not only deliver world-renowned art to the borough, but boost the economy.

He said: “We are not replacing the library, and it is not one or the other.

“How the library works is being changed by the libraries review, and the result was that there was more space in the building, and this makes the most economic sense.

“I would be against closing libraries if we were, but we are not.

“Bury has got a lot to be proud of, because we are one of the European experts in the way we are working.”

Mr Trehy sees art as a way of supporting the local economy, as well as having its own intrinsic creative value.

He explained that foreign countries would pay for the work of their artists to be exhibited overseas, and that there had already been interest from countries such as Israel, Finland and Canada.

He said: “We are in the early stages but we have got a concept for how it is going to work and pay for itself and bring visitors to Bury.

“It is a bit of a no-brainer really, in terms of what it has to offer. In a time of cuts and pressures in funding, we can provide a visitor centre and experience which is externally funded.

“This will give Bury people the chance to see the work of some of the great artists of the world.”

Mr Trehy was also the brains behind the successful International Touring Exhibition Model, which saw pieces of artwork usually based in Bury rented to China, to bring Bury Art Museum’s assets to a wider audience.

He says the town is now recognised around the world as being at the forefront of this new model, and as innovators in making assets, which would otherwise not bring in any money, pay for themselves, with Bury receiving about £15,000 from the overseas exhibition.

The 54-year-old said: “It is a really exciting possibility that people will see this stuff and at the same time it will generate a big income in the borough. Because of the success of the China project, it shows we are not making it up. We know it will work, and we know it will make a big impact.”

The schedule of exhibitions in the first year of the sculpture centre is already in place, and Mr Trehy says the line-up will whet the appetite of art-lovers from around the globe.

The opening exhibition in May will feature a Text festival, which investigates the relationship between language in poetry and art.

In October. the second exhibition will feature a collection European and Chinese art, and late next year the third exhibition will have a knitting theme.

Looking to the long term, Mr Trehy said the plans will snowball and create more interest from overseas.

He said: “In two or three years we will have three international conf-erences a year. If you think about the number of hotel rooms people will book out and the impact on restaurants and shops, that is a big impact on the local economy.”

Mr Trehy says he does not expect the sculpture centre to receive widespread support and positive reviews, but thinks it will further cement Bury’s already strong reputation for supporting the arts.

He said: “Some of the work will be challenging, and some of it will be fun, and some of it will be irrelevant, but that is what art is for.

“As you would expect, I am sure some people will hate it, but also some people will love it.

“People don’t go to an art gallery to like everything; they go to think and be challenged. The one thing you don’t want to be at an art gallery is bored, and you certainly won’t be bored here.”

Comments (11)

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8:01pm Mon 20 Jan 14

dominoman says...

Anyone who thinks that is a good idea, has no brains.
Anyone who thinks that is a good idea, has no brains. dominoman

10:09pm Mon 20 Jan 14

Eltonian says...

"Some of the library space will be removed to make way for the centre" - this being two-thirds of the library space containing books and with two-thirds of the current stock having to be withdrawn and sold or discarded. All this to make way for a sculpture centre that Mr Trehy " does not expect to receive widespread support or positive reviews" So why is this ridiculous idea being allowed to go ahead? Shame on Bury Council. You are allowing ego and status to come before the needs of the people of this town.
"Some of the library space will be removed to make way for the centre" - this being two-thirds of the library space containing books and with two-thirds of the current stock having to be withdrawn and sold or discarded. All this to make way for a sculpture centre that Mr Trehy " does not expect to receive widespread support or positive reviews" So why is this ridiculous idea being allowed to go ahead? Shame on Bury Council. You are allowing ego and status to come before the needs of the people of this town. Eltonian

4:58am Tue 21 Jan 14

Babbar Divino says...

The original problem here it the lack of business acumen in being able to make use of the existing library and increase footfall (which is possible it has been proven in another council ).

Given that this is going to happen then I say yes give it a go but I hope if this "no brainer" turns out to be a lemon then those responsible for the decision and the waste of rate payers money either fall on their swords or are ask to find another job....sorry I forgot we are talking about Council workers here. They'll just waste our money and move onto the next "no brainer"..
The original problem here it the lack of business acumen in being able to make use of the existing library and increase footfall (which is possible it has been proven in another council ). Given that this is going to happen then I say yes give it a go but I hope if this "no brainer" turns out to be a lemon then those responsible for the decision and the waste of rate payers money either fall on their swords or are ask to find another job....sorry I forgot we are talking about Council workers here. They'll just waste our money and move onto the next "no brainer".. Babbar Divino

5:29am Tue 21 Jan 14

Babbar Divino says...

Sorry I forgot to mention the snowball effect of 3 international conferences a year in 2 or 3 years time. Remember you read it here first folks!
Sorry I forgot to mention the snowball effect of 3 international conferences a year in 2 or 3 years time. Remember you read it here first folks! Babbar Divino

11:10am Tue 21 Jan 14

hello sweetie says...

This is the same man who said; " If you've got the right works, if you've inherited the right artists from the Victorians or whoever, it is a licence to print money basically."
The same man who described sending art collections on worldwide tours as 'lucrative'.
When entrepreneurs take books from the library then hold a Text festival there's only one word; soulless.
'Eltonian' above mentioned 'ego and status'. Yes, some people know exactly how to get what they want.
Any chance the council won't grant planning permission for themselves!? (Planning decision due this week.)
This is the same man who said; " If you've got the right works, if you've inherited the right artists from the Victorians or whoever, it is a licence to print money basically." The same man who described sending art collections on worldwide tours as 'lucrative'. When entrepreneurs take books from the library then hold a Text festival there's only one word; soulless. 'Eltonian' above mentioned 'ego and status'. Yes, some people know exactly how to get what they want. Any chance the council won't grant planning permission for themselves!? (Planning decision due this week.) hello sweetie

7:12pm Tue 21 Jan 14

Astronette says...

"People don’t go to an art gallery to like everything; they go to think and be challenged".....

What better place to" think and be challenged" than a library??...
"People don’t go to an art gallery to like everything; they go to think and be challenged"..... What better place to" think and be challenged" than a library??... Astronette

8:29pm Tue 21 Jan 14

Babbar Divino says...

Hang on "hello sweetie" what do you mean by questioning the "lucrative" worldwide tours? The China exhibition made around £15,000. That means with one "lucrative" exhibition a year the £75,000 initial one off investment will be paid off in only 5 years! Oh sorry I forgot all about the operational expenses, make that 15 years. Try getting a business loan for this venture. It's a "no brainer"
Hang on "hello sweetie" what do you mean by questioning the "lucrative" worldwide tours? The China exhibition made around £15,000. That means with one "lucrative" exhibition a year the £75,000 initial one off investment will be paid off in only 5 years! Oh sorry I forgot all about the operational expenses, make that 15 years. Try getting a business loan for this venture. It's a "no brainer" Babbar Divino

10:05am Wed 22 Jan 14

hello sweetie says...

Maybe Mr Trehy should put HIS money where his mouth is. Or maybe they could sell off a Lowry for over a million...oh no hang on they already did that.
Works of art should not be repeatedly 'toured' as this will significantly speed up their deterioration (particularly international tours). The money raised shouldn't be used for pet projects either.
Babbar Davino, yes, a business loan for a business man.
Maybe Mr Trehy should put HIS money where his mouth is. Or maybe they could sell off a Lowry for over a million...oh no hang on they already did that. Works of art should not be repeatedly 'toured' as this will significantly speed up their deterioration (particularly international tours). The money raised shouldn't be used for pet projects either. Babbar Davino, yes, a business loan for a business man. hello sweetie

10:48am Wed 22 Jan 14

Yellow Hackle says...

Another case of Bury Metro PET PROJECTS for the Boys, Riding rough shod over the towns folk again.
Tony Trehy looks very smug in the picture some would call it arrogance,What about the petition that was launched to stop this sculpture rubbish, Do you think Mr Trehy knows something we dont ?
Another case of Bury Metro PET PROJECTS for the Boys, Riding rough shod over the towns folk again. Tony Trehy looks very smug in the picture some would call it arrogance,What about the petition that was launched to stop this sculpture rubbish, Do you think Mr Trehy knows something we dont ? Yellow Hackle

11:20am Wed 22 Jan 14

Astronette says...

Yellow Hackle wrote:
Another case of Bury Metro PET PROJECTS for the Boys, Riding rough shod over the towns folk again.
Tony Trehy looks very smug in the picture some would call it arrogance,What about the petition that was launched to stop this sculpture rubbish, Do you think Mr Trehy knows something we dont ?
Yellow Hackle - I have been assured by Bury Council this is "not the pet project of one individual"....make that 2, possibly 3 individuals....
And yes, what about the petition??? 2955 signatures from people who live, work or study in Bury (the majority were residents - the ELECTORATE). There will be a second debate at the council meeting next week.

Yes, Mr Trehy some people already "hate it".
[quote][p][bold]Yellow Hackle[/bold] wrote: Another case of Bury Metro PET PROJECTS for the Boys, Riding rough shod over the towns folk again. Tony Trehy looks very smug in the picture some would call it arrogance,What about the petition that was launched to stop this sculpture rubbish, Do you think Mr Trehy knows something we dont ?[/p][/quote]Yellow Hackle - I have been assured by Bury Council this is "not the pet project of one individual"....make that 2, possibly 3 individuals.... And yes, what about the petition??? 2955 signatures from people who live, work or study in Bury (the majority were residents - the ELECTORATE). There will be a second debate at the council meeting next week. Yes, Mr Trehy some people already "hate it". Astronette

10:07pm Wed 22 Jan 14

Vermillion says...

As a non state, non international artist who once exhibited in Bury Art Gallery but would probably never get my foot in the door, can I say that I am totally fed up of the word 'challenging'. It's very patronising to presume that the 'public' need to be challenged. Thought provoking? Presumptuous. David Lee (a Bury lad) in 'The Jackdaw' has some interesting stuff to say about 'galleries', 'curators' and funding. ''No brainer" is a very low level analysis of the situation.
As a non state, non international artist who once exhibited in Bury Art Gallery but would probably never get my foot in the door, can I say that I am totally fed up of the word 'challenging'. It's very patronising to presume that the 'public' need to be challenged. Thought provoking? Presumptuous. David Lee (a Bury lad) in 'The Jackdaw' has some interesting stuff to say about 'galleries', 'curators' and funding. ''No brainer" is a very low level analysis of the situation. Vermillion

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