The Dunsland Project

Comparisons with the proposed European Visual Arts Centre

Although it was not intended to be a centre for art and ecology, some useful comparisons might be made between the Dunsland Project and the proposals for the European Visual Arts Centre (EVAC) in Ipswich.

After Jeremy Rees left Arnolfini 1986, two years later he worked as the Visual Arts Consultant on the feasibility and development studies for a proposed new building to house EVAC on the Ipswich waterfront, scheduled to open in 1992. Sadly, the project was never realized but when Jeremy visited Dunsland in 1996 he kindly lent me copies of the proposal – now donated by me to the Arnolfini archive.

On both the capital and revenue plans, there are comparisons that might usefully be noted between EVAC and plans that touch on issues relating to a new building at Dunsland. A mid-estimate of the area of the EVAC building seems to have been in the region of 4,000 sq.m. and likely to have costed around £8 million, say around £2,000 per sq.m. Applied to the proposed floor area of 1,760 sq.m. of a new two storey building at Dunsland, gives a cost of £3,520,000.

Had CCANW been allowed to conduct a Feasibility Study at Dunsland, this sum would have been a far more achievable target to be reached than the cost of Poltimore, and with the flexibility that the building could have been on one floor, cost half this amount and still covered the same area as the old Dunsland House. Nevertheless, it was clear that the EVAC building would be likely to be supported by capital from the local authority, business partners and private benefactors, none of which we had the prospects to achieve at Dunsland.

On the revenue side, unlike Arnolfini and similar art organisations, EVAC hoped to raise running costs from admission charges and from trading. It also intended to establish an endowment fund of around £1-1.5 million. The business plans for both Dunsland and Poltimore also put great store on admission charges and significant patronage.

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Poltimore House

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