Swindon’s bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for £12.5 million towards a new museum and art gallery is not among the successful projects announced by the HLF today, but the council has said that it will continue with its work and put in another bid in the near future, writes Kevin Burchall of Swindon News online.
The HLF said Swindon’s collection of 20th Century British modern art and ceramics is of ‘outstanding heritage importance’, and there is a ‘strong case’ to improve its housing and display.
However, it said there were many competing bids this year and ultimately it did not have enough money to support them all. Overall, half of the bids considered by the HLF in this round were not successful.
For the next stage of the bid, the HLF has advised the council to focus on the long-term business case for a new museum and art gallery, and further develop its proposals for future governance, management and income generation.
It also noted that the future of the collection’s current home in Apsley House in Bath Road, which is an historic listed building, had not yet been determined.
Swindon Borough Council leader Cllr David Renard said: “We always knew it was unlikely we would be successful in the first round, as many large projects don’t succeed at the initial stage. The positive thing is that we’ve come a long, long way and done as much in 12 months as many projects achieve over several years.
“We will now work with the Heritage Lottery Fund to explore how we may strengthen our case further. They agree with us that the collection is outstanding and deserves a better home. I am not in any way discouraged by their decision because we can build on the hard work we’ve already done.”
Isobel Brown, director of Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We will continue to support Swindon’s bid for Heritage Lottery Fund backing towards a new museum and art gallery for the town. This project represents an important part of Swindon’s cultural regeneration, and one that will draw visitors and investors.”
Swindon Borough Council has made successful bids to the Heritage Lottery Fund in the past, including £8.4million for the establishment of the STEAM museum, and £3million for the restoration of Lydiard Park.
The council has identified £5million towards the art gallery and museum project and hopes that a further £2.5million will come from private benefactor.
Pictured: Council leader David Renard, right, and Dr Mike Pringle of the Richard Jefferies Trust pictured by Richard Wintle of Calyx
Source: Swindon News