Never out of the press for long The Public has made yet another appearance in the Express & Star today as it turns out that over £25,000 of taxpayers’ money has been paid to musicians performing at the venue.
Not including those who performed at events staged by Public Gallery Ltd (who went into administration in February) the paper reports that the cash was shared between 85 acts appearing at the failing gallery since June last year.
The Freedom of Information response did not disclose which acts were paid and how the cash was distributed, but the money came from the £450,000 given to ‘Destination West Bromwich’ by the European Union. The scheme is run by the city council, who also chipped in £800,000 of public cash.
The article points out that due to “technical glitches” The Public has still yet to take a paying customer, despite costing taxpayers and estimated £63million.
Regardless of whether people have paid to see the actual gallery, we might reasonably have expected music fans to pay to see acts playing in the building's performance space and for these musicians to be paid from ticket sales. It appears this just isn’t the case and that the management have no intentions of running The Public as a business in an attempt to cover costs. Now disinterested local ratepayers have shelled out for bands they’ve never heard of and didn’t see to play to people who didn’t pay (or if they did the money has been swallowed up elsewhere).
Spokesmen for the gallery often speak about the hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of people who’ve come to West Bromwich to watch music at The Public, but it appears this has done little to relieve the burden on taxpayers, and has, in fact, increased it.
In the scheme of things £25,000 isn’t a huge amount of money, certainly not when set against the backdrop of the millions this building has already cost, but it exceeds what many Sandwell people are paid in a year and tells a tale on those who would’ve had us believe these live music performances were a money-spinner