More money, and more secure funding, will be available for arts and culture in Swindon because the borough council has been designated by the Arts Council England as a Portfolio organisation.

Initially, it means £300,000 will be available to the council and it will use the money to try and help people from “underserved” communities in the borough see the town’s museums as a destination.

The Labour cabinet member for heritage arts and culture Councillor Marina Strinkovsky reported to the council’s overview and scrutiny committee: “In April 2023, Swindon Museums were fortunate to gain Arts Council England National Portfolio status through our inclusion in the Wessex Museums Partnership.

“Part of the money will fund a full-time community engagement officer, who will work across the three Swindon Museums - Steam, Swindon Museum & Art Gallery and Lydiard House Museum.

“Their work will focus particularly on underserved communities across Swindon and aims to make our museums a place where more people from within Swindon want to visit than ever before.”

At the meeting Labour councillor Jane Milner-Barry said: “I’d like to praise the previous Conservative administration. This is very good news for Swindon.”

And Cllr Strinkovsky was pleased to agree and give credit where it is due.

She said after the meeting: “What becoming a National Portfolio Organisation means is that funding is more secure and for a longer period, instead of just being for specific projects.

“Because we are part of Wessex Museums, which was already an NPO, we will be able to fund the community engagement officer.

“But it will also allow us to do more with other exhibitions, we’ll be able to get in exhibitions from other museums and also lend part of our collection out.”

Her report to the committee said that when the Museum & Art Gallery opens again, which is scheduled for Spring, about four years after it closed in March 2020, the new spaces will be able to take exhibitions from the partnership such as s “Hardy’s Wessex” and “Elisabeth Frink: A View from Within”.

But Cllr Strinkovsky said she was also looking forward to other museums exhibiting examples of the art in the borough council’s collection, which is acknowledged to be an internationally important collection of modern art.

She said: “The people of Swindon seeing Elizabeth Frink is great, but I’m more interested in showing people outside the town what amazing art we have here and shouting about Swindon to people in other places.”