Towner Eastbourne receives major funding boost

Joe Hill, director, Towner EastbourneJoe Hill, director, Towner Eastbourne
Joe Hill, director, Towner Eastbourne
Towner Eastbourne has secured Arts Council England funding to begin capital redevelopment works in 2021.

Confirming further awards from their £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England have awarded Towner Eastbourne a further £341,000 towards its redevelopment programme.

The funding awarded will allow Towner to fulfil ambitious plans to ensure the gallery remains at the heart of the cultural offer in Eastbourne and Sussex, ahead of Towner’s 2023 centenary year.

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The funding will go towards two new and flexible studio spaces on the gallery’s ground floor, allowing Towner to deliver on plans for artist development through provision of studio space and a bigger on-site community engagement programme.

A better environment for those with hidden and physical disabilities will be created, via greater circulation space.

The adaptations will also be considerate of environmental impact and where possible will rely on reusing materials and minimising wastage.

Towner also plans to ensure its future financial stability by improving the ground floor shop and developing its on-site cafe offer, as well as opening the space for a wider range of hires, including makers fairs, cinema screenings and for local businesses and creative practitioners.

Architects and a design team will be appointed in 2021.

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Towner’s visitor numbers were at an all-time high in 2019 with a 20 per cent increase in requests for creative activities, and the planned redevelopment works will help to meet this demand.

Joe Hill, director, Towner Eastbourne, said: “Thank you to Arts Council England for this vital funding towards our forthcoming capital redevelopment.

“This project is central to our strategy of ensuring Towner Eastbourne is a cultural and civic hub for communities across Eastbourne and East Sussex, as we move towards our centenary year in 2023.

“We will use the funding to improve the flexibility of our gallery studios, helping us to create an accessible space for everyday creative activities for people of all ages including families and vulnerable groups, and where artists can make and engage with our audiences.

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“By making creative activities more accessible to all in our gallery, the redevelopment will also allow us to continue to reach poorer households and diverse audiences within our building as well as through work in the community and the town at large.

“The newly improved spaces will also support our commercial ambitions for our cafe, shop and as a venue for organisations to hire for live events, makers fairs, networking events and artist residencies.”

This most recent Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announcement follows several previous rounds of investment from the Culture Recovery Fund, which saw £428 million distributed to over 2,000 cultural organisations through the grants programme, alongside the £3.36 million Emergency Grassroots Music Venues Fund. The latest financing takes the total allocated from the Culture Recovery Fund over £1 billion.

Peter Heslip, director, South East, Arts Council England, said: “This latest investment through the Cultural Capital Kickstart Fund will secure a number of our region’s most exciting capital projects affected by the pandemic. We know that the investment made to date through the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund has already helped to sustain many organisations across the South East and this is another way to ensure the resilience of important spaces at the heart of their communities.”