Birmingham & Black Country

West Bromwich's The Public: Hundreds sign support petition

The Public gallery
Image caption Under the plans, the college would seek to lease the building from the council

More than 460 people have signed a petition calling for a £67m art gallery which could be turned into a college to remain "a valuable community, cultural, digital and learning resource".

The Public, in Sandwell, West Bromwich, opened in 2008, amid heavy criticism over its cost.

Last week, Sandwell Council said it was considering using 80% of the arts centre as a sixth-form college.

The LearnPlay Foundation, based at The Public, set up the petition.

LearnPlay employs up to 200 local young apprentices, provides outreach services to schools and communities and offers media services.

The gallery has depended on millions of pounds of grant funding since it opened and the council has previously said it could not fill the funding gap out of its own budget.

Under the plans, the college would seek to lease the building from the council.

Building work on the arts centre stopped in 2006 after the company running the project went into administration.

It opened to visitors in June 2008, but it was not finished until a year later at a total cost of £67m.

The council then put together a plan to complete the centre, which is currently run by the Sandwell Arts Trust.

The arts trust has said the news over the college proposal was "disappointing".

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