Councillor defends Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum branding after backlash
STINGING criticism of a rebranding exercise for Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum has been rebuffed by the councillor who commissioned it.
Both Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood and the chairman of the town's Civic Society, Douglas Ogle, said they thought the possible new names for the Clarence Street gallery – C-MAG, Fifty One and the favoured option, The Wilson – (pictured) were "crass", "puerile" and "ghastly".
Both men said the rebuilt centre should either still be called Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum or named after Baron Charles de Ferrieres – one of the town's past MPs who donated his art collection to found the gallery.
Borough council cabinet member for sport and culture, Councillor Rowena Hay, has defended the exercise, saying: "We appreciate the feedback we are getting on the three names. It's great to see that it has generated such interest, with the majority being very positive.
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"Any branding is subjective and everyone is entitled to their own opinion."
Mrs Hay said the new ideas about the gallery and museum's name came about after what she called a "perceptions audit" undertaken by creative consultants Arthur- SteenHorneAdamson (ASHA), based in Eagle Tower.
She said other famous Cheltenham names were considered, but the consultants plumped for using the name of Edward Wilson, Cheltenham-born doctor, polar explorer and painter.
Mrs Hay said: "He is best known for his exploration and that's what the new art gallery and museum is all about – exploring the vast range of cultural activities and opportunities it provides to the community.
"At the start of the project, key stakeholders including Heritage Lottery Fund had asked us to consider rebranding the Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum for the reopening."
And she said the cost of the exercise by ASHA was not in addition to the initial figures for the redevelopment on Clarence Street.
"The design agency will be donating the new brand," she said. They are a local agency who are excited about this amazing world-class centre.
"The marketing and promotional costs have been allocated from within the development scheme capital budget from the start."
The borough council's cabinet will decide on the name on Tuesday. Until then it is interested in views using its website at cheltenham.gov.uk/cheltenhamart or #cheltenhamart on Twitter and Facebook.
Some opinions have been expressed already.
Azaria, using the Twitter handle @RecommendedGLOS, said: "We love "The Wilson"! Great connection to Cheltenham's history. Not too keen on the others :)"
Relish The Taste (@relishthetaste) said: "The Wilson gives prominence, prestige & place. 51 sounds like a cafe; C-MAG an agency."