The Public costs more and more

How much money is it acceptable to spend on advertising for an attraction that is shut? You may think that’s a stupid question, but the Express & Star newspaper reports today that £4,000 will be spent on double-sided signs intended to entice people into The Public gallery in West Bromwich.


PICT0603[1] These follow a previous campaign on West Midlands buses, where people with strange robotic heads invite the rest of us to enjoy the gallery, but even if weird robot-headed people were just the thing to convince you to travel to West Brom, then you’re still likely to be disappointed as, although the main building opened on 28th June this year, the actual gallery remains closed to visitors due to ‘technical difficulties’.


Back when the WMTPA launched, we were referring to this project as a “£54million pink elephant”, but some time has past and – those who’ve been following the press will know – the situation certainly hasn’t improved. Today’s report stated the cost to taxpayers as no less than £61.7million and we’re still waiting for confirmation of when the place will actually be open for us to survey exactly what this colossal amount has been spent on.


And it seems that this disastrous enterprise will get worse before it gets better. We used to have to counter the comments of those blind optimists who attempted to convince the public that this money represented a fantastic investment, but those people have slowly backed away and now we’re all left to stand on the sidelines and watch these costs escalate further, something that seems even more appalling in the current economic climate.


Putting up billboards to remind us all that this monolithic waste of money is still in our midst seems hugely insensitive, but nonetheless indicative of the way this entire project has been handled. If there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, then it certainly isn’t visible as those in charge have openly admitted that The Public’s backers – Advantage West Midlands, the Arts Council and Sandwell Council – may need to find cash until it starts making money, whenever that may be.


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