Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham 'Tate Gallery' plan not dead, says Ikon boss

Ikon gallery in Brindleyplace
Image caption The current Ikon gallery in Brindley Place could be retained as a separate annex if a new gallery was built elsewhere

Shelved plans to build a gallery "the size of the Tate Modern" in Birmingham could be resurrected if funding is found, the BBC has been told.

Proposals for a centre on the former Curzon Street train station site were scrapped in favour of a HS2 terminal.

Jonathan Watkins, director of the city's Ikon gallery, said the idea was "hibernating and waiting to be woken up".

He said financial support from the council was needed for it to go ahead.

Bosses of the Ikon, based in Birmingham's Brindley Place, want a new multi-million pound gallery built in Southside between the Hippodrome theatre and Digbeth.

'Visual arts'

In December, the council announced it planned to cut arts and heritage funding and focus on encouraging donations from visitors and supporters.

But Mr Watkins said a new gallery was essential if Birmingham was to keep pace with other big cities.

Image copyright Ikon
Image caption Jonathan Watkins said Ikon would need the authority's financial backing if a new gallery was to be built

"Birmingham needs more to offer in terms of visual arts if it's going to maintain its status as the second city," he said.

Mr Watkins said he hoped the current Ikon gallery would be retained as a separate annex if the project went ahead.

But because Ikon is a charity, they would need support from a developer as well as council backing, he said.

"Ikon has moved five times already so there's no reason why this has to be the resting place," he ag.

Image copyright Vanley Burke
Image caption Ikon's 2015 programme includes a project to move the contents of Handsworth photographer Vanley Burke's home

He was speaking ahead of the launch of Ikon's 2015 exhibition programme.

The programme includes a project to move the contents of Handsworth photographer Vanley Burke to the gallery and an exhibition of drawings, sculptures and films by Fiona Banner.

The gallery, currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, will also exhibit a number of pieces donated by contemporary artists ahead of an auction in the summer.

The city council said it would support the gallery's ambitions where possible.

Councillor Penny Holbrook said: "Birmingham is rightly known for its great cultural scene and, as with all our cultural venues, we will continue to support the Ikon in its ambitions where we can; however, this has to be set in the context of the severe financial challenge faced by the city council."

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