An MP has launched a parliamentary petition in a bid to save a photography gallery said to be under threat after its entire Arts Council funding was axed.
Grahame Morris, Labour MP for Easington in County Durham, has launched an Early Day Motion (EDM), calling on Arts Council England to ?review its decision? to cut funding for the Side Gallery in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Morris warns that the funding cut ?will do great damage to art and culture in the North East?.
The gallery was one of 206 organisations to lose their entire funding after Government budgets were slashed by around 15%.
Earlier this year the gallery said it deserved £174,000 in annual funding to bring it to a level ?appropriate? with that of other organisations.
In 2010/11, its last year of funding under the Arts Council’s National Portfolio programme, the gallery said it received £62,500.
The gallery, which in the past has prided itself on ?taking full responsibility for its commitments?, blasted the decision to cut its funds entirely, as ?illogical? and ?profoundly stupid?.
The furore has already prompted more than 1,800 members of the public to sign an online petition demanding that the Arts Council ?secures the future? of the gallery which was set up in 1977 and is part of the Amber Film & Photography Collective.
Side Gallery fan Tim Hicks branded the Arts Council?s decision ?madness?. Tim, from South Shropshire, told Amateur Photographer (AP): ?When I was a student in Newcastle back in 1978, visits to the Side Gallery were what got me started on serious photography.?
Among documentary photographers whose work has featured in exhibitions at the gallery was Tim Hetherington, a renowned war photographer who was killed while on assignment in Libya last month.
Grahame Morris’s House of Commons motion adds: ?this House? recognises the unique work of the Side Gallery as the only gallery in the country dedicated to humanist documentary photography.?
The EDM – which has so far been signed by 14 MPs – also ?expresses concern that the decision to cut funding may be based on the Arts Council?s prejudice against the Side Gallery?s egalitarian collective governance?.
Morris?s EDM ?congratulates the strong egalitarian governance of the gallery as part of the Amber collective that has built one of the North East?s most significant cultural legacies in the last 50 years?.
The gallery says the Arts Council has denied that the decision was based on a ?prejudice against collectives?.
A spokeswoman for the Arts Council told AP: ?We understand an EDM has been tabled on the subject of or decision on funding for the Side Gallery.
?Unfortunately we were not able to fund all the organisations that applied to the National Portfolio programme.
?We are in discussions with the Side Gallery on opportunities to support their work in the future.
?National Portfolio funding is only one of the ways we fund the arts. Others Include our National Lottery funded Grants for the arts programme.?
Commenting on one of his favourite shows at the gallery, Tim Hicks added: ?The ?Byker? exhibition by Sirkka Liisa Konttinen opened my eyes and those of many others I?m sure, to the possibilities for urban photography.?