Plans to transform Plymouth’s museum and art gallery into a new world class visitor attraction have taken a giant step forward with the award of £4.2 million funding from the Arts Council.
The Arts Council funding to help create a major new cultural attraction at the heart of the city is in addition to £12.8m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £8m from Plymouth City Council.
The much anticipated History Centre will breathe life into the city’s rich history, provide a home for its most precious collections and enable great art to be available for everyone.
It will bring together under one roof the cultural and heritage collections of the City Museum and Art Gallery, the Plymouth and West Devon Records Office, the Local History collections of the Central Library, the South West Film & Television Archives, the South West Image Bank, and some of the Naval Heritage Centre in Devonport.
Councillor Tudor Evans, Leader of the Council, said: “This is big – really, really big – news for Plymouth and we should all be dancing in the aisles about it. I went to London to help tell the Arts Council why this really matters to Plymouth and they totally got it, so we’ve come back with the cash.
“It’s really big news because it brings right to our doorsteps the world class exhibitions and events that you now have to travel hundreds of miles to see. The big stuff – the national and international class shows that the privileged few in London can see – will be right here in our equivalent of the Turbine Hall.
“It’s really big news because everyone in Plymouth is going to want to see it and get involved. It brings great art and culture to thousands of people who wouldn’t usually see arts and culture as their thing. It is also huge news for both budding and established artists in Plymouth who will have a platform for their work that they can now only dream of.
“The announcement is really big news for the tens of thousands of Plymouth residents who love finding out about the city’s history and finding out more about their families and neighbourhoods as they will be able explore and celebrate our amazing history in new ways.
“It’s also really big news because it will create more jobs for local people and because it shows that the noise we are making in Plymouth means we are finally getting Plymouth its fair share.”
Listen to Tudor Evans talking about what this news means to Plymouth here:
Councillor Peter Smith, Deputy Leader, said: “This is fantastic news for the city and our bid for an iconic new centre for our cultural and heritage collections. The £4m for the Plymouth History Centre is one of only a limited number of awards made around the country, where there was huge competition for funds. It shows the confidence in Plymouth that is now being given by national partners and gives backing for this ground breaking project, which will be a centrepiece for visual arts. It’s a massive investment boost for Plymouth, attracting this scale of national cultural resources into the city.”
Paul Brookes, Programme Director of the Plymouth History Centre said: “This is wonderful news, and gives us real confidence, as we continue with our preparations for the Centre. We’ve had really good responses from the public and continue to share our plans with them. Huge thanks to everyone involved in helping to make this brilliant project a reality.”
Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West Arts Council England, said: ‘I’m really delighted that Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery have been successful in their application. This will be a flagship destination that really puts Plymouth on the map for its outstanding contemporary visual arts offer. Plymouth is a unique and developing city, with exciting plans for the future and culture at the heart of its ambitious plans for growth. This centre has the potential to be a focal point for contemporary visual art in the south west, and gives many more people the opportunity to enjoy great arts experiences.”
Adrian Vinken, Chair of Plymouth Culture said: “This is not just fantastic news for Plymouth but for the region as a whole and places Plymouth and the Mayflower celebrations on a national and international stage.”
Nigel Godefroy of the Plymouth Barbican Trust, of which SWIB is a part, said: “SWIB is delighted to be a partner of the new History Centre. This project offers us the unique opportunity to open up our rich archive of over 1 million photos, giving insight into life in Plymouth over the last 100 years, to the wider community and beyond, and offering a valuable resource for interpretation by artists.”
David Beadel, Chairman of SWFTA, said: “This award from the Arts Council towards the development of the Plymouth History Centre is exciting news for the South West Film & Television Archive. Our collections will have a long term home in what will be a world class environment, and will make us much better able to have a sustainable business.”
Professor Dafydd Moore, Executive Dean of Arts and Humanities at Plymouth University, said: “This funding is great news for a really ambitious project which will provide countless opportunities for people to understand more about their world. The partnership, which includes our ground-breaking Peninsula Arts, will enable local and international artists to create new work interpreting and reflecting on the collections.”