Banksy owner scraps street art museum plans

The owner of Banksy’s Season’s Greetings mural has cancelled plans to create an international street art museum in Wales following disagreements with council officials.

John Brandler, 63, said a lack of co-operation from officials and local sponsorship meant plans to house works by Banksy, Damian Hirst and Tracy Emin in a new gallery in Port Talbot have now been scrapped.

The Essex-based art dealer bought the mural for a “six-figure sum” in January after it appeared on the side of a garage owned by steelworker Ian Lewis, and agreed it could remain in Port Talbot for up to three years.

But he said his plans to turn the gallery where it is being kept into an international street art museum have been frustrated by Neath Port Talbot Council, with Mr Brandler claiming it is because Banksy and the other artists are not Welsh.

Port Talbot street art
Season’s Greetings by Banksy was found on the side of a garage in Port Talbot (Ben Birchall/PA)

Mr Brandler told the Press Association: “They asked me ‘What artists would you be using?’, and I said ‘Damian Hirst, Banksy, Tracy Emin, that sort of thing’. (They said) ‘No, they’re not Welsh.’ I said ‘This is going to be an international museum of street art, this is going to make you world-famous.'”

He claimed the museum would attract 150,000 people a year to the town, making it the sixth international museum for street art after ones in New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and Munich.

He said the council only provided him with a signed contract to keep the piece at its new home in the Ty’r Orsfaf gallery while it was being moved last month, and for only a third of the agreed space, preventing him from bringing £10 million worth of other pieces to join it.

He also criticised the council for not erecting any signs to advertise that the mural was on public display.

Mr Brandler added: “They’re looking for excuses for it not to happen.

“If Port Talbot doesn’t want it, I’m not going to put myself in an early grave to force something on a town.

“It’ll take me a few weeks to get back to normal because it has seriously impacted on my own gallery, and I’ll carry on.

“And Port Talbot will continue to be one of the poorest places in the UK.

“So I feel sad for the people I’ve met, because the people I met in the street all wanted it. They looked forward to the money coming into the town.”

Neath Port Talbot Council has been approached for comment.

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