Local Democracy Weekly: Usher Gallery – tradition vs change

The struggle over how best to run Lincoln’s Usher Gallery has come down to a battle of ideas, those who want to change what it offers and those who want to keep it the same.

On one side, you have Lincolnshire County Council who said times have changed and so has what people want from a museum or art gallery.

The authority wants to change how some of the space at the Usher is used by allocating some of it to weddings and coroners services.

It’s a move which the council said improves what the gallery offers and saves money in the process.


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But that doesn’t wash with campaigners who described the plan as a “step in the wrong direction”.

Artists and local people came together to form the Save Lincolnshire’s Usher Gallery (SLUG) group.

What started as concerned residents questioning the council’s proposals has now morphed into organised campaigners, complete with their own meetings and press releases.

The group aims to keep the Usher as an art gallery open to the public, an idea that would keep the building in line with its tradition.

But, the county council needs to save money and a shake up of heritage services is on its radar.

£750,000 a year could be saved from changing the Usher, as well as The Collection and other attractions around the county.

County Councillor Colin Davie, senior member for economy, feels the move will progress the gallery as people no longer go to exhibitions to “stare at walls”.

He warned that the service needed to “offer more to survive”.

It was a comment that sparked backlash and evidently made SLUG what is is now, a group which will push back against the council.

The review of services is still ongoing, but will continue to be watched with interest by campaigners and local people alike.

Wherever there is change, there will be struggle and we can see that with the Usher Gallery.


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