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The issue comes to a head this year

13th February 2024

A ‘Sma shot’ in the foot !

I don’t think anyone has realised the inevitable end result of One Ren selecting a brief without a municipal art gallery for its Scottish and international collections and no permanent contemporary art exhibition space.

We should be invited to our civic reception in 2026 after 150 years of passion for art and the sort of exhibition which draws input from all over UK. We are also rooted in Paisley, even by our constitution. We work for no remuneration, for the love of art and Paisley. We have never bothered anyone for funding. Open entry was brought in by Joe Hargan, making us modern and inclusive. All you need is enough talent to be accepted. 

We are run by professional artists and by many art teacher members who help out. Paisley has also had it’s amateur group since 1901 and they rightly feel chuffed if they are accepted. They also hired the municipal asset, feeling proud to be in a real gallery. The annual Renfrewshire teacher’s exhibition was enjoyed and our annual Children’s competition caused much excitement.

The Scottish National drawing competition saw us provide couriers to each art school in Scotland. We brought up London galleries, from Stow and Richmond Hill and Eton, to name a few, to talent scout and give awards which launched careers.

It was because Paisley Institute was run by art lovers combined with having Art Galleries that a collection was born. Now over 100 years of collecting is at risk as they have stopped us in our charitable purposes with nearly 400 members left homeless in Paisley. 

The museum has long coveted our 6 gallery space. This is not the 1st such crisis the Institute has weathered. Ignorance of the deed of gift from the Coats is no excuse. It was put about (falsely) that we had closed down in the 70’s. This meant we were no longer to have our free annual exhibition, and they intended to charge commission. When this was found to be untrue, the habit of saying we only use 2 galleries (instead of our 6) was council speak and this misinformation is continued today. 

See ‘Paisley, the untold story’. Also we heard it said to us, ‘two galleries’, at our one and only hour long meeting with council staff (not Victoria Hollows as requested) in August 2023. 

Joe Hargan was on committee 1985 and president from 1989 to 2000 by popular demand. We went from the days of a typed list catalogue to a full colour book. He, with John Kingsley and Robert Kelsey (all 3 successful professional artists) designed our logo and encouraged the museum to put up banners.

We had up to 900 visitors to our openings. The sales desk was busy, reminiscent of the January sales in 60’s department stores. The speeches and the VIP top table with our cherished provost, Nancy Allison, had the atmosphere of the last night of the proms. Artists daughters eagerly waited at the side with a bouquet of flowers for the honoured guest helping announce the lucky winners of the coveted awards.

Paisley Art Institute is the victim of unilateral decision making, and delay tactics, with selective (non) funding. Former president Jean Cameron was given £16,000 displacement funds to make 2019 show in the old Coop space a success. Last year, our request to help pay for our venue for the 134th was met with – We are not in a position to give you any morefrom Renfrewshire Council’s Public relations officer, whom One Ren’s, Victoria Hollows, suggested we meet with, when we had asked to meet with VH herself. The council officer had never been to our exhibitions in our own galleries, and if she had she would have seen 6 galleries full and never only two!

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