£3.5m kickstarts modern art gallery’s big redevelopment

Paul Hobson

Paul Hobson

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering North Oxford, Jericho and Summertown. Call me on 01865 425498

AN OXFORD art gallery has cleared a major hurdle in a campaign to overhaul its buildings after receiving £3.5m from Arts Council England.

Modern Art Oxford, in Pembroke Street, was handed the cash by the Government-funded organisation yesterday.

The grant will fund a major part of MAO’s scheme for a £5.1m internal revamp.

Director Paul Hobson said: “It’s a good day for us. Applying for this money was one of the first things I did when I took this job last year.

“Our gallery is an old 19th century industrial building that has been all sorts of things over the years, even a carpet warehouse, and it is getting a bit tired.

“This money will allow us to properly recognise this amazing building and show off the best possible art.”

The gallery plans to close in 2017, reopening in 2018, with exhibitions elsewhere during the closure.

The revamp will see a lift and staircase installed through the centre of the building to open up higher floors to the public.

A new entrance is also expected to be opened on to St Ebbe’s, facing the Westgate Shopping Centre. The gallery aims to attract more than 200,000 visitors a year – almost double the current figure.

Arts Council England is also to provide the gallery with a further £2.68m across three years, after making it part of its “national portfolio”.

In other awards, the Oxford Playhouse is to receive £486,284 for its auditorium, foyer and bars revamp, and has had its annual funding of £379,474 renewed for the next three years.

And four Oxford University museums – the Ashmolean, the Pitt Rivers and the museums of the History of Science and Natural History – are to receive a total of £1.45m per year.

Arts Council England chair Sir Peter Bazalgette said: “This settlement represents a commitment by Arts Council England to new talent and building England’s arts and culture capacity all over the country. When funding [elsewhere] is declining you have to set priorities. This we have done.”

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