Aberdeen City Council’s co-leader has hit out at the Scottish Government for failing to support the £34.6 million revamp of Aberdeen Art Gallery.
Anticipation is building ahead of the official reopening of the gallery on Saturday, when 5,500 ticket holders will see inside the refurbished attraction for the first time.
During a tour of the new tourist attraction, Aberdeen City Council co-leader Jenny Laing told the Evening Express she thinks the revamped gallery will rival Dundee’s V&A.
But Ms Laing said, unlike the design museum in Dundee, Aberdeen City Council did not receive any cash from the Scottish Government to help deliver the refurbishment of the Art Gallery. She said: “The V&A had help from the Scottish Government. I would have liked that help here.
“It has been a project that the city council has had to push forward on its own with help from the National Lottery.
“No money has come from the Scottish Government. I think that’s disappointing.”
The Scottish Government was an early supporter of the plans for the V&A Dundee, providing £38m towards its construction.
Keep up to date with the latest news with The Evening Express newsletter
Meanwhile, the Aberdeen Art Gallery project, which also included the renovation of the city’s Remembrance Hall, was funded by £14.6m from Aberdeen City Council, £10m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, £1.5m from the UK Government and £1m from BP.
A public fundraising campaign is also still under way to raise an additional £10m – with the council still £5.6m short of its target.
Alex Nicoll, SNP resource spokesman, said: “The reality is that the Art Gallery is two years late, at least £5m over budget and with a near £10m black hole due to the administration promise of public donations never materialising. Councillor Laing is dancing on quicksand trying to criticise anyone.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government was not approached by the local authority during the planning or business case phase of the project.
“We understand that Aberdeen City Council discussed funding with Historic Environment Scotland (HES) in 2016 after project works had already begun, but chose not to pursue an application for a Building Repair Grant.
“While it was not able to assist directly in this case, HES has previously provided significant funding to projects in Aberdeen, including £1.4m to Aberdeen Music Hall, a project which was also supported by £286,000 from Creative Scotland.
“Despite ongoing cuts to Scotland’s budget by the UK Government, Aberdeen and the north-east have received increased funding in recent years as a result of Scottish Government’s budget commitments.”