Ambitious plans to build an art gallery and museum in Swindon town centre as a key part of a new cultural quarter have taken another step forward with a grant from the Arts Council.
Swindon Council has received £95,000 from the organisation’s Strategic Support Fund to pay for further consultation and planning work on the scheme.
While Swindon has a renowned collection of 20th century British art – one of the best in the UK outside of private hands – its current museum and art gallery in Old Town is the Bath Road museum and art gallery has space to display just a tenth of the works at any one time.
The Arts Council said the money would fund a series of reviews, consultations, plans and activities to provide the tools, skills and information to create a “resilient, sustainable and innovative new museum and gallery”.
The £15m scheme for an art gallery and museum on the site of the Wyvern car park has the backing of Influence, the town’s leading business organisation. It is also supported by Robert Hiscox, honorary president of insurance giant Hiscox and a substantial art collector. He is now seeking sponsors and supporters from the art world for what he hopes will be a showpiece building in the heart of a new cultural quarter.
The council has committed to pay £5m towards the scheme. An application for £5m has been made to the Lottery Heritage Fund and the remaining £5m is being sought from private individuals and supporters.
Speaking last year Mr Hiscox said: “The Swindon Museum and Art Gallery has a fascinating collection of Modern British and Contemporary Art, but the collection deserves a better home and it is inspirational that the council, the politicians and local people have united behind the vision of building a new one.
“A new museum and art gallery would bring a cultural vibration to the heart of Swindon and be a vital part of its regeneration and a great asset to the whole region.”
The Arts Council’s Strategic Support Fund focuses on gaps or development opportunities in the arts, recognising that excellence and the potential for excellence can be found in museums of all sizes.
Influence includes representatives from Swindon Initiative, the Chamber of Commerce, the FSB, major employers and the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership.