Page last updated at 17:27 GMT, Friday, 19 December 2008

Troubled gallery gets extra £1m

The Public, West Bromwich
An estimated 40,000 people have visited the building since June

A further £1m is to be given to a £50m art gallery which opened two years late and nearly £12m over budget.

The Public in West Bromwich, which opened in June, has yet to take paying customers as an interactive gallery, its main feature, is not ready.

It went into administration in 2006 and was effectively saved by a government grant of £1.6m.

Sandwell Council is providing the funding to cover the gallery's annual operating costs, a spokesman said.

Finishing touches

The gallery is seen as integral to the regeneration of West Bromwich and the rest of Sandwell by the local council.

The interactive gallery is currently free to the public while the finishing touches are applied. However, managers have been criticised for eventually charging a £6.95 entry fee.

An estimated 40,000 people have visited the building since it opened, a council spokesman said.

David Clarke, the art gallery's director, told BBC News that the additional funding is justified.

"An extra £1m against a funding that was agreed in 2002 well, life has moved on since 2002, things do cost more," he said.

"But what we are putting money into isn't just a bottomless pit of cost. It's workshops for people, it's working with communities, it's programmes to drive the regeneration of West Bromwich."

He said it was also up to the general public to make its namesake a success.

"My job is to pick this up, make it a sound business and make it relevant and make it fun for people in West Bromwich and in Sandwell generally.

"And, it's incumbent on us all really to make it a success for people and make it work for people. It is the arts venue for Sandwell."

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The Public opened in June



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