THE Arts Council, which gave £1.8 million to build the Kube gallery, has expressed bitter disappointment at its closure – just as a covenant to protect its use expires.

The council provided a massive Lottery-funded capital grant towards the landmark £2.4 million gallery at Bournemouth and Poole's North Road, which launched in 2000 as The Study Gallery.

Under conditions of the grant the iconic glass building, designed by Richard Horden, had to be used as a gallery for 10 years.

The Arts Council has also contributed tens of thousands to support the work of the gallery – including £55,000 last year.

Now the college has withdrawn funding and the Kube will close at the end of this month.

A spokesman for the council, who called the gallery “a national asset”, said: “We are extremely disappointed at the closure of the Kube gallery. We invested significant capital funding in the project, but 10 years after the grant was made, we can no longer insist that it continues to be used for its intended purpose.”

College Principal Lawrence Vincent said they had been a “staunch supporter” but it was “simply unjustifiable to be providing large amounts of money to a study gallery when the funding of frontline teaching and learning is under such enormous pressure.”

He said the Kube would become a state-of-the-art teaching space, not offices as suggested by some protesting the closure, and insisted that if the financial situation had been different “the decision would most definitely have been different”.

Following the news of the closure, an online campaign was launched to save it. Facebook site ‘Save the Kube’ now has nearly 900 members who are organising a protest march through Poole on January 16.

Kube manager Sandy Wilderspin said the community response had been “really comforting” and described the online campaign as “heart-warming”.

She said there was “huge will” within the Kube team to put on the planned programme of events at alternative venues and talks with Bournemouth and Poole councils and the Lighthouse were “looking positive”.