Beloved Public Gallery in Edinburgh to Close Due to Funding Cuts

The closing of Inverleith House has shaken the Scottish art scene.

Franz West and Heimo Zobernig, ‘Bateau Imaginaire’, (2004/13). Photo courtesy Inverleith House
Franz West and Heimo Zobernig, ‘Bateau Imaginaire’, (2004/13). Photo courtesy Inverleith House

The publicly-funded contemporary art gallery Inverleith House, situated inside the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (RBGE), is closing its doors as an art venue. The institution can no longer afford the gallery’s running costs, the Scottish Herald reports. RBGE will find a new use for the building that has more to do with botany and horticulture.

Inverleith House has functioned as a contemporary art exhibition space since 1986, and its current show celebrates 30 years. “I Still Believe in Miracles” features work by Isa Genzken, Juergen Teller, Richard Wright, Ed Ruscha, Louise Bourgeois, and others who have shown work at the house over the past three decades.

The funding body Creative Scotland (CS), which provides a portion of the funding for Inverleith House, expressed their disappointment at the decision. It leaves the current director of exhibitions, Paul Nesbitt, in place.

There will be scope for art to be exhibited in the gardens around the house, but alternative, more financially viable, uses will be found for the house itself.

“These are hard financial times for everyone, and we couldn’t afford to sustain it, and at the moment we have to focus on our core programs, which are botany and horticulture,” Simon Milne, the Regius Keeper at the botanic gardens, told the Scottish Herald.

Inverleith House. Photo courtesy of Inverlieth House

Inverleith House. Photo courtesy of Inverleith House.

“The importance of the gallery, alongside the work of Paul and his team, to contemporary visual art and artists in Scotland cannot be understated and its loss will be profoundly felt,” reads a statement issued by Creative Scotland.

“We understand the financial pressures that RBGE are under, like other publicly funded organizations. However, we would have hoped that the value that Inverleith House brings to the gardens, to the public, and to Scotland as a space for art and creativity could have been better recognized and result in a different decision,” the statement continues.

The regional funding body Scottish Arts Council and CS have funded Inverleith House to the tune of £1.5 million ($1.8 million) since 1994.

This announcement comes at the same time as the publication of CS’s Visual Arts Sector Review, which highlights the challenges, like budget cuts, that are having a highly negative impact on arts in the region.

The review’s Final Report reads, “Demand for public funding outstrips the budgets available and alternative forms of funding and investment are largely under-developed.”


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