The Citizen, Thursday, 4th October, 2007
Artistic accounts

By Andrew Greaves

Almost 500,000 is to be spent on the Harris Museum in the next six months in a bid to attract some of the world's top works of art. It comes as the city council admits that the museum's budget could be cut next year as part of a council-wide money saving exercise. Council leader Councillor Ken Hudson said: "All council departments are going through a value-for-money study to find greater efficiencies and ways of saving taxpayers money.

Living Under Canvas

"The Harris is part of this process although we do recognise the importance of the museum to Preston."

Sources in the art world have also suggested that environmental conditions within the Harris are so bad that no national museums are allowed to loan key works to the city.

But Preston Council has secured 400,000 from European and Single Regeneration funding, to transform the first floor balcony gallery. It is also investing almost 80,000 of council funds on new blinds.

The work on the blinds has been essential in allowing the Harris to secure an exhibition by Turner Prize-nominated artist Kutlug Ataman, which is due to open in January.

A council spokesman said: "Without spending 80,000 on the new blinds, at a time when the council is looking to save money, we would not have been able to secure the Paradise exhibition.

"The other investment will see a big improvement for visitors and we see it as a big step forward for the Harris."

Counc. Hudson hopes the arrival of the Paradise exhibition will be the first of many. He said: "Paradise is the first exhibition to benefit from these changes. "It is a contemporary art exhibition run in collaboration with a museum in California, so we are making good progress in providing a better environment for the Harris to show international works of art and exhibitions."

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© The Citizen October 2007