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« Pray for My Immortal Soul | Main | Ormeau Baths Gallery Shock - Part 2 »

February 28, 2006



A heart felt tragedy. Is it too late to do something? How about an email petition to ask the powers that be to ease up and release some funds.

Lead a revolution, inspire the masses...

The Michael Heenan Fan Club

Way to go JC!!


I was shocked when I heard about this from Mrs L today. Is there really a vigil tomorrow? I might go along at lunchtime. Meet you there!

Jett Loe

Tomorrow at 1pm - here's the text from their press release:





Jett Loe

And here's the Staff Statement sent out today:

28 February 2006

Arts Council of Northern Ireland

Withdraws Funding

From Ormeau Baths Gallery


The Arts Council at a hastily convened meeting on 13th February informed the Chair of Ormeau Baths Gallery that the Council would be withdrawing funding from the Gallery with immediate effect.

Ormeau Baths Gallery is the most significant venue for visual arts in Northern Ireland and is one of the largest specialising in contemporary visual arts in Ireland. In the 10 years since it was established OBG has raised the profile of Northern Irish visual art practice both at home and abroad, and has presented the work of major international artists to audiences in Northern Ireland. Its closure will have a significant effect on the arts community in Northern Ireland as well as the image of Northern Ireland internationally.

This extreme step is the culmination of a series of actions taken by the Arts Council which date back to the Board of Ormeau Baths Gallery’s decision in December 2003 to withdraw from the Arts Council’s proposed City Centre Arts Centre to be sited at Talbot Street. OBG’s decision was made after careful consideration and taken in the best interests of the visual arts sector.

It is indicative of the way that the Arts Council conducts business that our decision prompted a senior member of the Arts Council executive, to instruct staff to “make life difficult” for Ormeau Baths Gallery. Ormeau Baths Gallery unwittingly presented the Arts Council with an opportunity when a number of administrative and procedural errors were identified in our draw down of Lottery funding, a situation which is not uncommon among comparable arts organisations but one which led the Arts Council to take prolonged and disproportionate action against Ormeau Baths Gallery.

During the last two years Ormeau Baths Gallery have put in place stringent financial control mechanisms and have been reporting monthly to the Arts Council who have been releasing grant income on a monthly basis.

Ormeau Baths Gallery has co-operated with the Arts Council throughout this process, in order to build confidence and re-establish a constructive working relation between the two organisations. The executive of the Arts Council have however continued to undermine the Board and management of Ormeau Baths Gallery and have sought to create an impression to its own Council that Ormeau Baths Gallery was a cause for ongoing concern.

The Arts Council in a letter from the Chief Executive dated 9th September 2005 sought further reassurances and requested that a “complete restructuring of the Board and staff restructuring” be carried out. The Board of Ormeau Baths Gallery accepted this proposal and was in the process of implementing this request when the decision was made to withdraw funding.

The Arts Council have cited non-compliance to this request as the reason for withdrawing funding, and make reference to a letter from the Director of Ormeau Baths Gallery detailing a timetable for implementation. Ormeau Baths Gallery, having changed its Memorandum and Articles of Association, was about to place a series of public advertisements to call for new Board members, a process which would be conducted by an external recruitment agency. The letter indicated that when in place this new Board would appraise management and staffing structures and institute necessary changes by November/December 2006.

It appears that the Arts Council could not accept the logical chronology of this approach. The Arts Council did not impress upon the Board of OBG that this would result in the withdrawing of all funding but instead were unavailable for discussion, despite repeated efforts to contact them to progress the recruitment process.

The Arts Council’s emphasis on staff restructuring would now appear to have less to do with a wish to enhance staffing provision at the Gallery as was articulated to OBG, but rather a continuation of a two year long process to discredit and remove both the Board of Ormeau Baths Gallery, Hugh Mulholland its Director, and his staff.

The manner of the enforced closure of Ormeau Baths Gallery and the effect this will have on the arts infrastructure of Northern Ireland raise serious issues of confidence in the Arts Council and its executive. To register your support for Ormeau Baths Gallery or question how this decision sits with ACNI’s Visual Arts Funding Policy which states that the Council:

“wishes to see Northern Ireland develop as a centre of excellence for the production, presentation and critical analysis of contemporary visual arts. It encourages quality, innovation and experimentation to develop a culture in which visual art is respected and valued”

Please e-mail:

Rosemary Kelly, Chair [email protected]

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive [email protected]

Noirin McKinney,Director Arts Development [email protected]
Chris Bailey, Chair, OBG [email protected]


That's crazy! Make life difficult for them? I haven't been to the OBG for a while, but it's an institution in NI.

I'll be there at lunchtime tomorrow.

Jett Loe

I don't know the individuals involved so I can't comment really on the story - just have info I've read from the OBG press release.

I called the Arts Council today and spoke to their Communications Manager Grainne McCann - she assured me they would get back to me by tomorrow morning re: my interview request, (would like to interview Rosemary Kelly, Roisin McDonough or Noirin McKinney).


I'll bring the fnorters.


This could end up being the first unofficial NI bloggers meetup!


Obtain interviews, photos, v-logs, everything. For those of us who cannot cross the Irish Sea at short notice, where can we lodge our complaints... my relatives in Randlestown will be up in arms!

Jimmy Porter

I'm going to.

It'll be like the Dublin riots or more highbrow.

We'll throw merlot bottles instead of WKD bottles.


That is hilarious. I love the "break down" of your experience...

Jett: "I really like that piece, what is it?"
Curator: "It's furniture from Home Depot"
Jett: "Oh..well at least it seems business is good."
Curator: "Not really. We're closing."

Jett Loe

We're gonna miss you at the vigil tomorrow Phil.


I will demonstrate here in Atlanta.

Our former mayor is on trial for corruption - I'll create a disturbance at the courthouse and use the media there to attract attention to the gallery's plight.


Hey, surely if Slugger O'Toole is going to have a strap line like "Notes on Northern Ireland Politics and Culture" then it should have something about this? Or will it wait until it's been on the BBC before aggregating the link...


My bad, it does.

I was practically falling over myself there to get a dig in too.


Bernie Goldbach

You could stoke up interest both North and South if Hugh Mulholland requested a parade permit for centre city Dublin. There's support for the OBG vision on both sides of the border. I'm amazed at the cheek of the Northern Ireland Arts Council, especially considering the totally excellent exhibition that Hugh curated in Venice last summer. OBG had nice stuff that now gets shuttered instead of being shared with an appreciative audience.

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