Girl With the Yellow Scarf – Bekah Ash, 2011. Iowa City Public Library Art Purchase Prize winner. via ipcl.org

Oswestry Library already does an excellent job of bringing art into the town and making it accessible and highly visible. Every month, there’s a new exhibition by the BVA in the library’s foyer, and an exhibition of local artists’ work in the main room upstairs.

Recently, there’s been much hand-wringing in the local arts world as the government’s cuts to local arts funding really begin to bite. Since 2008, local arts funding has dropped by almost 40%By 2020, under current plans, local arts funding will have dropped by close to 90%meaning that even very basic publically-funded support for local arts events, projects and initiatives will have all but vanished.

I came across this article from last year by the former Education Secretary, Estelle Morris. She argues that local arts and culture provision needs to amalgamate in order to survive – that local museums, libraries and arts centres must band together and share resources and funding. I couldn’t help thinking of Oswestry. Wouldn’t it be great if the library – already so supportive of the local arts – could become a vibrant local arts and culture centre? Jeanette Winterson has argued that local libraries need to reinvent themselves if they are to survive the next ten years – I’d say that Oswestry Library is an example of the direction local libraries should be heading.

In the United States, local and public libraries use all sorts of art-events – from prizes and competitions to workshops, drop-in events, demonstrations and classes – to keep their libraries centres for the local visual arts. What about doing more things like this in Oswestry Library?

Maybe, instead of simply thinking of the library as somewhere to hang our work, all us local artists could start brainstorming about ways to make the library the local arts centre Oswestry could really do with.

 

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