BUSINESSES and individuals have given their full support to plans to build a new museum and art gallery following today’s successful launch of the official Back the Bid campaign.

Councillors, artists and business owners gathered at the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery in Old Town to lend their support to the building of a new museum behind the Wyvern Theatre in the town centre.

Rod Hebden, who was appointed director of the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust in April following the shock resignation of Hadrian Ellory-van Dekker, thanked those in attendance for their support and urged them to do all they can to make the bid a success.

The trust will apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund in November for a £10 million grant to put towards the £22m project.

Rod said: “It’s wonderful to be able to launch the Back the Bid campaign.

"There are just a few months to go before we put the Heritage Lottery application in and we want to reach as many people as possible.

“We will be taking the project around the town, visiting schools and businesses in a bid to get people involved.

“Swindon has incredible stories to tell and we want to show them to the world.”

People are encouraged to call in to the Museum and Art Gallery in Bath Road to pick up a supporter’s postcard.

Councillor Garry Perkins, the cabinet member for regeneration, said: “I am very pleased to be part of this Heritage Lottery bid because it will bring huge benefits to Swindon.

“It will be very important for the town, not just in cultural terms but in economic terms, too. And having one of the best art galleries in the country to house the superb collections will be something we can all be proud of.”

The new butterfly-shaped museum and art gallery, which will house a nationally significant collection of modern art, is intended to become a focal point of the town’s new cultural quarter.

Especially excited about the new project was local artist Vicky Silver, who, together with Swindon Carers Centre, currently has an exhibition on show in the Artsite studio.

Vicky said: “It’s thrilling for me as an artist to have something like this in Swindon.

“We have been saying that we need a new art gallery for a while now and now that it has finally been taken up it is absolutely amazing.”

Costing £22 million, the project on the site of the now demolished Wyvern car park will create a public space dedicated to art, history and science, with a café and shop.

To get involved, email or search for the Swindon Museum Trust on Facebook and Twitter.