Watts Gallery Trust receives lifeline grant from £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund

Art Daily
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Watts Gallery Trust's Art for All learning programme delivers transformative workshops for socially excluded and vulnerable groups.
Watts Gallery Trust’s Art for All learning programme delivers transformative workshops for socially excluded and vulnerable groups.

COMPTON.-Watts Gallery Trust has been awarded £421,980 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure they have a sustainable future, the Culture Secretary has announced today.

Watts Gallery Trust is one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support. £257 million of investment has been announced today as part of the very first round of the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England. Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.

Established in Compton, Surrey at the end of the 19th century to provide Art for All, Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village is the legacy of the great Victorian artist, George Frederic Watts OM RA (1817 – 1904) and his wife, the artist and designer, Mary Watts (1849 – 1938). The Wattses believed that art should be available to everyone, and that access to art and to craft could improve people’s lives.

Today, Watts Gallery Trust upholds this ethos, ensuring that the unique campus of Arts & Crafts buildings and the internationally important collection of paintings, sculpture, ceramics and works on paper created by its founders are accessible to as many people as possible. Alongside exhibitions and events, in collaboration with artists and creative practitioners the Trust delivers a programme of transformative workshops for socially excluded and vulnerable groups. These workshops are inspired by the heritage of Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village and help to build self-confidence and to develop new skills.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation. It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery.

“These places and projects are cultural beacons the length and breadth of the country. This unprecedented investment in the arts is proof this government is here for culture, with further support to come in the days and weeks ahead so that the culture sector can bounce back strongly.”

Chair, Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, said: “Theatres, museums, galleries, dance companies and music venues bring joy to people and life to our cities, towns and villages. This life-changing funding will save thousands of cultural spaces loved by local communities and international audiences. Further funding is still to be announced and we are working hard to support our sector during these challenging times.”

Alistair Burtenshaw, Director of Watts Gallery Trust, said: “I am extremely grateful to the Government for this vital support to aid our financial sustainability at this challenging time. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our staff, creative practitioners, volunteers and supporters alike for their commitment and tireless efforts in continuing to deliver our Art for All programmes throughout the pandemic. Our digital programmes have kept audiences entertained, and our community learning workshops were quickly adapted to make sure that those who need it most have still been able to reap the wide-reaching benefits of creativity and art.”

“Having implemented Government-recommended safety measures across our site, we have commenced a phased reopening of Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village since July. It has been a joy to be able to welcome visitors, volunteers, programme participants and staff back in person or through our digital programmes and I look forward to working with our community to further extend our Art for All ethos at this difficult time for everyone.”