THE proposed art museum in Swindon took a huge step forward yesterday after the council secured vital funding to move the project forward.
The Arts Council confirmed that it was giving £95,000 towards the project which will eventually allow the exhibition of the town’s large collection.
Last year it was agreed the art museum would be the centrepiece of a new cultural quarter, located close to the magistrates’ court in the town centre.
The money will be used towards bringing in expertise so the council can make sure progress is made in the correct way.
Coun Garry Perkins (Con, Shaw), the cabinet member for regeneration, said: “This really is a massive boost for the art museum and we are all delighted to have got it.
“We were hopeful of getting the money but it was not certain. The officers involved in the application did a great job.
“This is going to be very big for Swindon but unfortunately we haven’t built too many art museums so we will need to bring in outside expertise so we get the right type of museum for Swindon.
“Getting the money is also validation for the project and shows that there is a belief that Swindon is suited to getting an art gallery.”
As well as the assessment, the money from the Arts Council’s Museums Strategic Support Fund will be used to carry out a ‘collections significance’ review of all stored collections, including archaeology.
This will allow the council to gain a full understanding of its art collection, which contains works by LS Lowry and is said to be one of the largest modern art collections outside of London.
A commercialisation assessment will also be carried out with the funds to determine the best ways for the museum to make money from the venue.
“This illustrates the potential of the collection we have in Swindon,” said Coun Perkins “The money will help us understand how to make the best of what we’ve got and attract the widest possible audience for it. “A new museum and art gallery will contribute massively to Swindon’s continued regeneration, so it’s crucial that we make the most of the commercial opportunities the collection brings, and learn from other towns and cities around the country.”