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Arts Barge project hope for Skeldergate Landing on River Ouse in York
A PROJECT to create a floating arts venue on the River Ouse in York has moved a step forward.
Organisers behind plans for the Arts Barge have asked City of York Council for permission to use Skeldergate Landing as the base for the scheme, which has recently received financial backing.
The council confirmed last month that it would allocate £25,000 from its Economic Infrastructure Fund (EIF) towards the venue so a boat can be bought, with three further £25,000 payments to be made at later stages as the business plan proceeds.
The Arts Barge Project was set up in 2009 with a fundraising appeal subsequently being launched and a four-week trial run taking place during the 2011 Festival Of The Rivers.
The cost of the boat is likely to be about £50,000, with the overall project, including renovation work, expected to be about £275,000 and sponsors set to be sought.
In their application to change the use of Skeldergate Landing to accommodate the barge, the project team said it would be moored in a way which would ensure it was not affected by rising or falling river levels and it would be inspected at least twice a day if flooding struck York. Tables and chairs would be placed on the adjacent quayside.
Refitting the barge is expected to lead to at least six temporary jobs, with ten permanent posts being created once it is operational to run music and arts programmes as well as its cafe and bar. The council’s Labour cabinet approved the EIF funding at the start of December, with a report by council officials saying the barge would be “a key attraction for both residents and visitors” and would boost “social inclusion” in the city, with York firms being commissioned to carry out the work.
Since the application was lodged, more than 40 people have written to the council to support the project, saying it will be a cultural asset for the city.
However, the authority’s Conservative group has questioned the “long-term sustainability” of the project and the use of council money to back the plans, while the Liberal Democrat group has claimed the expenditure is “irresponsible given the financial position of the council”.