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Cultural bonanza as Arts Council funding victors named

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Nearly 30 cultural projects have been earmarked for a cash windfall from the Arts Council England as part of its first capital investment programme since 2003

Among the schemes which are in line for grants from the £114 million capital projects pot are Ushida Findlay’s proposed overhaul of York Art Gallery; Haworth Tompkin’s revamps of both the National Theatre and Chichester Festival Theatre; and Jamie Fobert’s second attempt at expanding Tate St Ives.

Also included on the 26-strong list of projects to have cleared the first-round funding hurdle is the planned refurbishment of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery complex on London’s Southbank - a scheme taken to feasibility stage by Rick Mather.

During the next 18 months the applicants will go through a second, more detailed application phase.

Alan Davey, chief executive of Arts Council England said: ‘The Arts Council hasn’t run a capital programme since 2003 so we knew there was a real need to maintain and improve our existing arts and cultural buildings.

‘That’s why we’ve prioritised renovations and refurbishments across the country that deliver sustainability and resilience and ensure organisations have the right facilities and equipment to support and deliver their excellent work.’

A further round of the Arts Council’s capital funding programme will open in the summer.


Writers’ Centre Norwich by Ash Sakula
Proposed award: £3 million
To develop an international centre for writing in partnership with University of East Anglia, Norwich City and Norfolk County Councils and the British Centre for Literary Translation. The renovation and development of a Grade II listed, 18th century Georgian house in Norwich will provide spaces for teaching, conferences, events, offices, alongside workspaces for writers.

High House Production Park by HAT Projects
Proposed award: £1 million
In partnership with Acme Studios, High House Production Park plans to develop more than 40 new affordable artist studios, providing high quality spaces for artists, including work/live, workshop, project and private spaces, on the Production Park site in Purfleet, Thurrock.

East Midlands

Embrace Arts (The Richard Attenborough Centre) by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
Proposed award: £600,000
A multi-use, inclusive arts centre at the University of Leicester, who plan to extend their existing gallery space for the display and interpretation of contemporary visual art and increase access for disabled people.

Embrace Arts, Richard Attenborough centre Leicester by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Embrace Arts, Richard Attenborough centre Leicester by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios


Southbank Centre by Rick Mather (to feasibility stage)
Proposed award: £20 million

To refurbish the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery complex, bringing them up to the international standard of the Royal Festival Hall. This will involve bringing them up to date for contemporary, cross-art form practice and exploring a more ambitious project to reclaim the unused and underused spaces for public and artistic use. This includes improved access, the upgrading of the stages, galleries, back stage areas and worn out services.

National Theatre by Haworth Tompkins
Proposed award: £17.5 million
Proposed NT Future project to open up its South Bank building, creating new opportunities for public participation. Key aspects include a new learning centre, access to backstage areas, modernised facilities for artistic and digital innovation, more welcoming public spaces and significant improvements in environmental and financial sustainability.

Royal Opera House 
Proposed award: £10 million
A programme of improvements over four years to maintain, repair and modernise stage and rehearsal facilities, as well as its digital capacity. This will enable the organisation to increase its artistic, financial and environmental sustainability. This includes updating stage elevators and flying systems.

English National Opera (project team not yet in place)
Proposed award: £2,154,651
A series of upgrades and improvements to its home at the London Coliseum. This includes replacing equipment that has reached the end of its functioning life, as well as ensuring that the building is environmental and financially sustainable, and continues to meet industry standards.

SPACE Studios (project team not yet in place)
Proposed award: £1,266,175
To carry out major repairs while improving disabled access to a number of their buildings, and reduce costs to itself and its artist tenants through energy-saving improvements. This work will contribute to organisation’s resilience and sustainability by investing in improvements which offer the most innovative solutions, maximise long-term benefits and reduce long-term costs.

The Roundhouse
Proposed award: £755,907
Improvements to the facilities will mean that it is able to reduce its running costs as well as the building’s environmental impact. Enhancements to the Young People’s Creative Studio and the upgrading of digital platforms will ensure that it is in a position to continue to offer relevant courses and opportunities for young people.

The Serpentine Gallery (project team not yet in place)
Proposed award: £750,000
To significantly improve its sustainability and public spaces to make them fully interactive using digital technology. As a result, the organisation will be able to continue showing world-class art, as well as using its interactive spaces to draw in new audiences and provoke deeper engagement with contemporary art.

The Place (project team not yet in place)
Proposed award: £586,518
To ensure that its theatre space will continue to be relevant and comfortable to both artists and audiences. By increasing the flexibility of settings artists will have more choices, resulting in a richer variety of potential experiences for audiences. A new energy efficient heating system will also reduce the building’s running costs.

North East

Gateshead Council
Proposed award: £10 million
For the provision of an annex to The Sage Gateshead providing flexible space to cater for international and national exhibitions, events and conferences; as well as larger scale music events. This will enable The Sage Gateshead to host a wider variety of events, increasing its capacity, economic resilience and its contribution to the regional economy.

The National Glass Centre
Proposed award: £847,500
To transform and modernise its facilities which will increase the venue’s exhibition capacity, enhance the visitor experience, refurbish education spaces and will improve the centre’s environmental sustainability.

North West

Manchester City Council by Mecanoo
Proposed award: £5 million
A new arts venue which will be the home for a new company - Greater Manchester Arts Centre - formed from the merger of Cornerhouse and Library Theatre Company. It will provide a venue with cutting edge technology that will enable the company to embed digital working throughout its artistic programmes.

Rosehill Barn and Theatre by Johnston and Wright

Rosehill Barn and Theatre by Johnston and Wright

Rosehill Theatre by Johnston and Wright
Proposed award: £2 million
The proposed development will provide contemporary front of house, backstage, exhibition and catering facilities, more performance space, full accessibility, a renovated historic auditorium, a home for work with the community and young people, and will also enable the company to raise money from other sources.

South East

Chichester Festival Theatre by Haworth Tompkins
Proposed award: £12 million
To transform its premises through the RENEW project, which looks to improve and expand the existing space. The company plans to continue to build on its recent artistic and trading success, and to produce high-quality, internationally significant work.

The Stables (architect yet to be appointed)
Proposed award: £2,015,461
To modify and extend its current space to improve operational effectiveness. The organisation has envisaged a new courtyard and backstage development that will provide additional and improved facilities. The enhanced spaces and facilities will ensure that more people can enjoy and value the venue and the work The Stables produces.

South East Dance (architectural competition to be launched)
Proposed award: £925,000
To fit out and oversee the development of The Dance Space, a purpose built internationally significant dance facility in Brighton. The Dance Space is part of a larger regeneration project driven by Brighten & Hove City Council, in partnership with Cathedral Group Plc and the University of Brighton.

New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth by Penoyre Prasad

New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth by Penoyre Prasad

New Theatre Royal Portsmouth by Penoyre & Prasad

Proposed award: £750,000
To restore their Grade II-listed theatre building, which was destroyed by fire in 1972. Plans include the restoration of the stagehouse, and the addition of a new creative learning and rehearsal space, all within the buildings’ original footprint. This project is in collaboration with the University of Portsmouth, who are also planning to build a cultural and creative industries department in the same space.

South West

Theatre Royal Plymouth by Andrzej Blonski Architects
Proposed award: £5 million
To modernise their front of house facilities and the approaches to the building and its entrances. The plan also includes the provision of new catering, corporate hospitality and retail facilities and a city-centre workshop space for Creative Learning and community programmes.

Bristol Old Vic by Andrzej Blonski Architects
Proposed award: £5 million
Upon successful completion of the first phase of refurbishment later this year, with £6.1million Arts Council investment, Bristol Old Vic then plans to develop its front of house into a more welcoming environment appropriate for a leading regional theatre in the twenty first century. 

Tate St Ives by Jamie Fobert Architects
Proposed award: £4 million
To extend their gallery facilities to greatly improve the artistic and learning experience of audiences, confirming the future sustainability of Tate St Ives as an international centre of art and exchange supporting the cultural profile of Cornwall and the south west.

Stroud Valleys Artspace
Proposed award: £510,000
A refurbishment that will significantly improve public access and audience experience by providing a new exhibition space, open plan studios, a refurbished public courtyard, a new kitchen, bar and toilet facilities.


Square Chapel by Evans Vettori
Proposed award: £3,953,500
To develop their sustainability through contemporary extension to their existing building, leading up to the adjacent Piece Hall with a focus on meeting increasing demand from regional audiences and participants. This extension will house a new multi-purpose auditorium, a café/bar, an upgrade to visitor facilities to accommodate increased audiences, and level access throughout - linking the new auditorium to the existing Square Chapel building.Overall the project will cost £5.9 million

York Museums Trust by Ushida Findlay
Proposed award: £3.5 million
For an extension to York Art Gallery creating a more sustainable resource within the existing listed building’s footprint, developing a new ‘must see’ venue for both regional and national audiences. The project will see gallery space increased, which will be used to display contemporary and modern visual arts through an ambitious exhibition programme, and the new Centre for British Studio Ceramics.

The Art House by Purcell Miller Tritton
Proposed award: £1,533,544
The organisation, which helps disabled and non-disabled artists achieve equal access to visual arts opportunities, plans to create 33 new accessible spaces through the conversion and refurbishment of the adjoining Drury Lane Library, reconfiguring the current building to accommodate all artists and user groups.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • My maths isnt great but it seems £54m of the £114m available is being spent in London.
    Places like the Royal Opera House already receive huge subsidies from Government and it would be fair to say the huge majority of the British population have never and will never cross its threshold.
    Isnt it about time we set free such places into the cold hard world of market forces and spend the money in a more meaningful and fairer way?

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