The Trustees of the Victor Batte Lay Foundation were saddened to learn of the decision by Colchester Institute, having closed the Minories as part of the Covid-19 lockdown, not to reopen during the remainder of their lease. The building, which is owned by the Foundation, is leased to the Institute until May 2023. The Institute used it at first to house their post-graduate art programme. That came to an end a few years ago, and subsequently the Minories has been run as an art gallery. Following the Covid-19 crisis and the withdrawal of Wilkin & Sons Ltd from running the cafe/restaurant, with all the uncertainty of future possibilities for activities in the Minories, which was no longer serving the core purposes of the Institute, it is not surprising that the Institute took this decision. The Trustees of the Foundation are grateful for the commitment the Institute has shown to the role of the Minories in the artistic and cultural life of Colchester over the years of their tenancy, and to all the Institute staff who have worked there.
The VBLF Trustees have been aware for some time that the lease was not likely to be renewed in 2023. For the last year we have been working on the next chapter in the life of the Minories as a centre for the visual arts in Colchester. We thought we had two more years to come up with a plan and then year to implement it. The closure of the building by the Institute makes that work all the more urgent. We have been deeply impressed by the public support and affection for the Minories. We are committed to ensuring that the Minories continues to flourish as part of the Colchester arts scene. It may take time to come up with a viable and lasting plan that maintains and even improves on the recent gallery operation, but we are confident that with so much good will from so many organisations, artists, people who value the arts and people who love the building, we will.