Why a Council House Could Be North West's Next Art Gallery; Tate Considers Hosting Exhibition on Liverpool Estate

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Byline: Claire Tolley and Emma Bird

WHEN Tate Liverpool opened its doors to the public for the first time in 1988 it proved the city really did boast some of the world's finest art.

It was the first venture for the Tate outside of London and its success led to the launch of Tate St Ives and the Tate Modern.

But now Liverpool could be about to go that one step further and be the first in the UK to bring 21st century art to the masses.

This time, however, it would not be housed in a former warehouse at the Albert Dock but a small, terraced house in Speke.

The idea was first put forward for consideration last March to ensure it would not only be tourists who took advantage of the exhibits but everybody across the city.

A feasibility study was started in November and is due for completion next month.

It will make recommendations as to whether or not Tate Liverpool should take its art to Speke.

South Liverpool Housing has already looked at several areas where the gallery could be based.

One likely contender is a former tenant's property.

Matthew Gardiner, chief executive of South Liverpool Housing, said the initiative was important for making art more accessible.

He said: "Although it is still very early days, we are excited at the possibility of a Tate presence in Speke.

"There are many considerations for the various partners involved and we look forward to working with the Tate when we have the results of the feasibility study." Claire McColgan, regeneration facilitator for the Liverpool's Capital of Culture bid, said: "Collaborations such as these are key to the way art activity will move forward in the city.

"We are very excited about the potential of this project and are awaiting the results of the study.

"Partnerships between arts organisations and communities are completely the way forward in terms of both the bid and also in terms of how the city regenerates.

"The Tate has got a reputation for doing really good community and outreach work and this idea builds on that reputation." The hand-in date for Liverpool's Capital of Culture bid is scheduled for the end of March.

A Tate spokeswoman said the gallery worked with hundreds of organisations across Britain to make the wider community aware of its importance but that this venture would herald a new area for the world famous galleries if it went ahead.

She said: "South Liverpool Housing is one of the organisations we have got links with.

"The Tate House is a proposal on the table which we will discuss with them. We have not yet said anything about the feasibility study. We are still looking into it. When it is finished, we will be deciding what we will do. There are lots of 'ifs'. …