One of Bristol’s most prestigious art galleries has been awarded a grant of almost £200,000 towards a project that it hopes will secure the future of its building and to increase the number of visitors through its imposing doors.
The RWA’s Light & Inspiration project is planned for 2021 and will cost £3.3m to deliver.
National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) development funding of £178,600 will allow the Queen’s Road gallery to progress their ambitious plans, and then apply for a full grant of £1.37m next year.
The Light & Inspiration project, planned for 2021, will:
- keep the galleries cool and light by installing new, thermally-controlled skylights, needed to ensure the structural integrity of the roof and saving the RWA from potential closure
- make the RWA’s II* listed building more welcoming, attractive and accessible, with the aim of increasing visitor numbers by 40 per cent
- transform what gallery bosses describe as “our forlorn forecourt” into a vibrant outdoor social space with alfresco cafe seating, better signage, space for family creative activities and outdoor exhibits
- upgrade outdated fittings making the upstairs galleries accessible for people in wheelchairs without assistance for the first time
More than £938,000 towards the total project cost has already been secured, including the first round grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, together with funding awarded by the John James Bristol Foundation, Nisbet Family Trust, Linbury Trust, Foyle Foundation and Bristol Port Company.
A gallery spokesperson said: “As a charity receiving less than 1.5 per cent of core income from public subsidy and no unrestricted reserves, the RWA’s survival depends on audience development and revenue generation.
“Research in 2016 echoed previous studies identifying a lack of awareness about the building’s purpose, an absence of ‘kerb appeal’ and the daunting and intimidating grandeur of the façade as the most significant barriers to engagement, along with physical access issues.
“Being able to continue to exhibit historic works of art, as well as developing a more welcoming forecourt, façade and foyer are therefore essential to the RWA’s ability to continue using the building for its original purpose.”
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