Art groups pick up an £8.7m windfall

Southend Standard: Happy - Joe Hill, director of Focal Point Gallery Happy - Joe Hill, director of Focal Point Gallery

ARTS organisations are celebrating after being given an £8.7million funding boost.

The Focal Point Gallery and arts group Metal, both in Southend, are among those picking up money, which will keep them going for the next three years.

Kinetika Art Links International and the National Skills Academy, both in Thurrock, also received money as Arts Council England announced funding for 670 arts organisations and 21 museums across the country.

Joe Hill, newly-appointed director of the Focal Point Gallery, which is based in the Forum library, said the money was important to the thriving local arts team. Mr Hill said: “This funding comes at a crucial time for Southend’s cultural landscape and is recognition of all that has been achieved by the team at the gallery.

“With the opening of our new space last September, the number of highprofile artists with international reputations coming to work in the town is growing.

“Visitor numbers to our exhibitions have more than doubled and we’re developing closer relationships with other cultural organisations in the region.

“This funding ensures we can sustain and develop a crucial space for contemporary art in south Essex.”

Since opening, the gallery, which will receive £550,000, has staged solo exhibitions by 2012 Turner-Prize winner Elizabeth Price, Jemima Stehli and David Mabb.

Permanent artworks were also created for the space, including an installation by Mike Nelson, commissioned furniture by Marc Camille Chaimowicz, a public artwork by American artist Allen Ruppersberg and a bespoke reception desk designed by Southend-born Tris Vonna-Michell, who is nominated for this year’s Turner Prize.

Metal, which organises the Village Green Festival, in Chalkwell Park, received £1.6million for projects in Southend, Liverpool and Peterborough.

The organisation will recieve approximately £188,500 towards arts activities and programme for Metal Southend each year.

Metal’s artistic director, Colette Bailey said: “It’s a great starting point for another three years of creating great art projects for all kinds of people from all walks of life.”

BREAKDOWN OF FUNDING

ARTS groups in Essex will receive a total of £8,709,622. Here’s how it breaks down in the south of the county.

! The Focal Point Gallery, in the Forum library, Southend: £550,000 ! Metal Culture: £1,696,134 ! Kinetika Art Links International, Thurrock: £296,535 ! The National Skills Academy, Thurrock: £810,000

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