A line has been drawn under the troubled history of West Bromwich’s controversial £63million arts venue The Public, according to Sandwell Council leader Bill Thomas.
Cabinet members at the Black Country authority met behind closed doors last night to discuss the future of the centre which has been beset with problems since it opened two years behind schedule and £15million over budget in June last year.
They voted to formalise an agreement between the authority and Sandwell Arts Trust that sees the company take on the running of the centre. There are hopes the move will save the centre at least £250,000 a year.
The Arts Trust is a subsidiary of Sandwell Leisure Trust, which was itself set up by the council to run facilities in the borough.
The agreement comes after the company which used to run the centre, Public Gallery Limited, went into administration earlier this year. It had been set up to create an interactive attraction at the arts centre. The interactive gallery, which opens for free this weekend, was meant to be the centrepiece at The Public when it opened.
The move into administration came just two weeks after The Arts Council rejected a business plan which would have seen the centre’s annual £500,000 grant double. The Arts Council did promise Sandwell Council a one-off £3million grant to try to open the whole centre to the public.
Coun Thomas said the Arts Trust move signalled the start of a new era for the centre.
“We’ve drawn a line under what’s happened. The long-term future of The Public is now assured.”