I wish I could share the enthusiasm of Victoria Pomeroy and Cllr Bill Hayton as planning is approved for the Chipperfield glass blocks to be built down by the harbour in Margate.
We are 15 years on; £7,000,000 spent with nothing to show and a cost that has expanded already from a further £15,000,000 to almost £18,000,000 and a road alteration costing £750,000. Visitor projections are almost as fantastic as the farce this whole process has been. I would rather believe in The Tooth Fairy than think that this un-inspiring building spoiling the quaint Margate sea-scape is actually going to attract 130,000 visitors per year(or has the projection gone back to 150,000?).
I wish I could believe that people from London, the South East and hell, why not the whole world, will say in 2010 , "Darling, there's a super gallery called The Turner thingee, down in little old Margate, lets pop down there for a couple of days and visit the place". In my dreams perhaps.
Lets assume, that 130,000 per year do decide to visit Margate specifically for the TC; it will be 8 years before we hit the 'extra million' visitors attracted to Margate. Allowing for subsidised running costs (do we really belive it will cover its costs?), each of those visitors will have cost the taxpayer a subsidy of almost £30 each. Is this a sensible way of attracting visitors?
So I hope every-one with a vested interest in The Turner Fairy Story is not too disappointed when the reality becomes The Turner Nightmare for the Thanet council tax payers.
The words of Simon Moores in 2004 are so true:
"Why the fiscally challenged planners at Kent County Council in conjunction with Thanet Council, believe that opening a gallery in a famous artist’s name, with none of his paintings on display, will suddenly transform Margate into a cultural Mecca and attract hordes of cultural day-trippers is anyone’s guess. It’s all rather like the fiasco of positioning the Royal Armouries in Leeds and not London with the net result that it’s losing money hand over fist because nobody wishes to visit Leeds when it’s cheaper and easier to visit sites such as the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao."