Artist hub plan for historic library

w2926s035 General views of Wakefield. Drury Lane Library.
w2926s035 General views of Wakefield. Drury Lane Library.

DRURY Lane Library could become artists’ studios if plans get Wakefield Council backing.

The Art House, which is next door to the century-old building, hopes to expand into the space once the library relocates to the new city library on Burton Street in spring next year.

It wants to transform it into high quality studios, doubling the work space available for local artists and creative businesses.

Anne Cunningham, chief executive of the Art House, said plans for expansion into the library building went back to when the studio complex opened in 2008.

She said: “Moving into the library space would make an artists’ community more sustainable and help the Art House to remain financially viable.”

Drury Lane dates back to 1904, after philanthropist Andrew Carnegie agreed to donate £8,000 to build a new public library for the city.

It opened in June 1906 with 2,000 books in stock, including a collection of books relating to the city. It still has a local history section, the John Goodchild Collection, which will remain in the building if the proposals go ahead.

Ms Cunnigham added: “It is the most beautiful building and looking at the history of Carnegie and how he supported the arts, it would be very fitting to see the space used for studios.”

The council’s cabinet will consider the plan to lease the building at its meeting on Tuesday.

Coun David Dagger, cabinet member for culture, libraries and sport: “This is a fantastic opportunity to support a key organisation within the district to expand and deliver their activities and provide a good future use for the building when the council vacates it.

“The Art House already offers invaluable facilities and support to the district’s creative talent. Their expansion into the Drury Lane buildings would give local people even more opportunities to take part in creative activities and would be another important step in the development of a vibrant cultural and business quarter for the city.”