THE ORGANISERS of a major arts project are trying to plug a £30,000 funding gap to salvage its future.
More than 250 pieces of art are all set to be installed at the new Midpark mental health hospital in Dumfries.
But the impending liquidation of regional body dgArts has meant NHS bosses face opening in four weeks’ time without the art installations which were earmarked to aid treatment and form a key part of the design of the building.
dgArts held the finances for the project, known as Healing Spaces, so their collapse means final bills have not been paid to 17 individuals and businesses who are finishing the art work.
The Standard revealed earlier this month how dgArts had used the unspent remains of the £164,000 Healing Spaces money to provide cash flow before its demise at the start of the month. Their pending liquidation will turn the independent Healing Spaces team into a creditor.
Donald Urquhart, who is the lead artist on the project, told the Standard he feels there is no hope of seeing the money again.
He said: “Ninety per cent of the money has been spent but we need the rest of it to be able to pay invoices and release the finished artwork. It could be salvaged but we need the remaining £30,000 to do it. Everything is ready to go and it would be a tragedy if a year’s worth of work went to waste as most of these pieces could not be used anywhere else.”
Healing Spaces project manager, Jane McArthur, said: “A lot of the artwork has been carried out by patients and it would be terrible if people that are vulnerable and fragile lose out on this.”
And she said local businesses are also losing out.
One of those businesses was Phil’s Frames on Buccleuch Street in Dumfries which has the job of framing much of the artwork and installing toughened glass over it.
Owner Phil Currie says he can’t continue the work until an outstanding bill of around £3,000 is paid.
“I want to get this off my books and get the job finished but if I can’t then I’ll be left with all the raw materials for it,” he told the Standard.
Focus will now turn on both the NHS and the council to plug that gap in funding. Asked yesterday whether they would be prepared to provide the cash so their hospital could open as planned, a health board spokeswoman said: “NHS Dumfries and Galloway has made formal contact with dgArts regarding the status of the Healing Spaces project and until the position becomes clear financially, it would not be appropriate for the NHS board to make public comment. With regard to the Midpark Hospital, it is on schedule and will be operational by the end of November 2011.”
The council was a core funder of dgArts and last month withheld one of its final payments to the group because of fears over liquidation. They’ve also been asked to help cover the funding gap.
A spokesman said yesterday: “The council is currently supporting the work of dgArts’ appointed advisors, Armstrong Watson, to establish the financial impact on all dgArts’ creditors, of which the council is one. We are advised that it would be inappropriate at this stage to consider treating any one of the creditors differently than the others.”
South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has also taken the matter up and has written both to the council and Creative Scotland to try and get them involved.
Posted by MMac