Artist studio plans win £495,000 grant

A former gallery now has a future ahead of it as the Southend Council secured £495,000 that will be needed to turn it into artist studios. The funding came from the Arts Council England who allocated it from its Small Capital Fund.

The project is being spearheaded by the Focal Point Gallery and the Beecroft Trust and they are hoping that the premises will soon have 23 studios that can be used by artists. The premises will also have a workshop space and a community gallery. The location is going to be the Beecroft Gallery which is located in Station Road.

The plans to make the transformation were approved by the council’s development control committee back in March. The councillor in charge of tourism culture and economy, Ann Holland, spoke about the news and described it as fantastic news for the cultural scene of the borough and she was also quite happy with the timing since there is also ongoing work to create a new cultural venue. The cultural venue is located near the Pier Hill lift and is known as ‘Twenty one’.

The councillor continued by saying that the plans they had for the site that was once the Beecroft Gallery will rejuvenate the building which is also located within a conservation area and this will see it become a productive facility once again. She also added that the changes will help to boost the tourism prospects and strengthen the art scene in the borough which in her opinion requires a facility of the type they are creating so as to flourish. She also says that the response from local artists and even others from outside has been very positive and this has given them yet another reason to move forward with their plans.

The people behind the project hope that it will be ready for use by the summer of 2018. The project also benefited from a £20,000 grant from the council. The cash was given as a gift to the gallery’s trustees. The gallery was relocated 2 years back due to structural issues and is now at the former central library on Victoria Avenue. The Beecroft Art Gallery Trust used the grant to make a formal bid to Arts Council England to allow them to completely overhaul the site. The trust consists of every member of the Southend Council. The building will be converted into seven different studios.

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