Arts Council England has announced a total investment of £1,989,391 has been awarded to seven organisations in the East Midlands to help them transform their buildings and equipment so they can operate safely post-pandemic, improve access, seize technological opportunities and reduce environmental impact.
From Boston to Leicester, the organisations receiving funding share a vision to build a fit for the future cultural sector, that will benefit communities for years to come. This place-based approach demonstrates the Arts Council’s commitment to helping level up the country through investment in culture and creativity.
Projects in the East Midlands:
- Artcore – £250,000 – Derbyshire – is an international centre for contemporary art and creativity based in Derby. It has a gallery, studios, workspaces, shop and café and is a hub for commissioning, production, presentation and debate, working with a diverse range of communities, creative industries, community, education, health and regeneration sectors. This will support them to improve the environmental sustainability of the building and offer better audience experience by installing solar panels, improved access, LED lighting, sustainable technologies and environmental monitoring systems.
- Blackfriars Arts Centre – £150,000 – Lincolnshire – in Boston hosts a varied programme of professional stage productions and is home to two local amateur dramatic and operatic groups. As the town’s cultural centre, they offer a youth theatre company, art gallery and community space. This funding will allow them to install more energy efficient lighting and sound equipment to improve sustainability and running costs, and to upgrade visual and hearing loop equipment to ensure a more accessible experience for visitors.
- Chesterfield Borough Council – £695,000 – Derbyshire – Stephenson Memorial Hall is a Grade II listed building which houses the Pomegranate Theatre and Chesterfield Museum, which tells the story of Chesterfield, from the establishment of a Roman Fort, the expansion of the market and the Industrial Revolution, which brought the ‘Father of the Railways’ George Stephenson to the town. Currently the building is undergoing a major refurbishment to create a modern visitor attraction. This funding will allow them to install a ventilation system into the auditorium of the Pomegranate Theatre, and a fully accessible Changing Places toilet.
- Connect Culture: Nottingham City Libraries Inclusive, Immersive, Innovative – £185,900 – Nottinghamshire – will adjust and recreate space within two Nottingham libraries – Strelley Road Library and St Ann’s Valley Library – including building a three-screen interactive cine digital system. It will increase digital provision at the two libraries, allowing them to purchase hardware and software for remote access, scheduling and live streaming, a 360 camera and software and IP licences for digital cultural content.
- The National Holocaust Centre and Museum – £460,000 – Nottinghamshire – offers ways for people to explore the history and implications of the Holocaust. There is a memorial garden alongside two permanent exhibitions – The Holocaust Exhibition, suitable for secondary school children and adults and The Journey, a text free and tactile exhibition built with younger children in mind. This funding will allow them to enhance existing buildings, gardens and equipment, so they can create new digital content, an auditorium and broadcast suite in the Memorial Hall and improve visitor experience.
- Metro Boulot Dodo (MBD) – £119,991 – Leicestershire – create storytelling experiences using virtual reality, augmented reality and large scale projection, blending traditional arts expertise and technological innovation to bring stories to life. This project will allow them to set up a professional immersive digital production studio, including a facility for collaborative working, an artist development space, a production space and a resource for learning and participation opportunities.
- Serendipity – £128,500 – Leicestershire – is Leicester’s Institute for Black Arts and Heritage, bringing perspectives from the African and African Caribbean diaspora to its programmes including the flagship dance festival, Let’s Dance International Frontiers, Black History Month Leicester and the Annual Windrush Day Lecture. This will allow their offices – and home to the Black Cultural Archive – to have an appropriate IT infrastructure and equipment suitable for all access needs.
Pawlet Brookes MBE, CEO of Serendipity, said: “This is a very important moment in our growth as an organisation. We have been in existence now for 12 years and have established ourselves in offices in Leicester city centre. This grant will enable us to invest in much needed equipment to improve our digital work, reach new audiences and be more resilient. We are immensely grateful to the Arts Council and lottery players for being one of the beneficiaries of arts funding through the National Lottery’s good causes.”
Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said: “World class creativity and culture needs a resilient and sustainable infrastructure to allow it to flourish. With these investments in the buildings, equipment and digital systems of cultural organisations across England, we are helping to secure the future of that infrastructure, and making sure that people from every part of the country can continue enjoying all the benefits it delivers for years to come.”
Peter Knott, area director of Arts Council England, said: “Our Capital Grants programme provides organisations with vital funding to ensure they have the right buildings and equipment to help them become more sustainable and innovative places, as they deliver exciting and creative work to the public.
“We’re pleased to be investing in seven projects in the East Midlands – from replacing well-worn seats in auditoriums and purchasing the latest digital technology to installing ecologically friendlier lighting and making buildings more cost-effective. Funded work includes updating access facilities designed to ensure a more welcoming experience for visitors.”
These grants, which range from £100,000 to £750,000, are for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 investment period. For the first time, applicants had to demonstrate how their project would address all four of the Investment Principles set out in Arts Council England’s 10-year strategy, Let’s Create. The aim of these Investment Principles – Ambition & Quality, Inclusivity & Relevance, Dynamism, and Environmental Responsibility – is to steer change so organisations are of greater benefit to the public, helping to build a creative and cultural country filled with creative people and cultural communities.