The Plymouth History Centre project – in which the University of Plymouth is a key partner – has been given a massive vote of confidence after being recognised as a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) by Arts Council England (ACE).
The History Centre, currently under construction near the main campus, will receive a total of £4,146,000 over the four-year period from 2018-2022.
It will enable it to stage national and international exhibitions, run a dynamic events and community engagement programme and commission new work by emerging and established artists responding to its collections and archives.
Due to open in Spring 2020, the History Centre is a partnership led by Plymouth City Council with the University, the South West Film and Television Archive, the South West Image Bank and the National Museum of the Royal Navy.
Major funding for the project has been confirmed from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, Plymouth City Council, the Coastal Communities Fund, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the University and the Wolfson Foundation.
Professor Dafydd Moore, Executive Dean of Arts and Humanities at the University of Plymouth, said:
“This is further recognition of the potential impact of the new History Centre, not just regionally but also at a national level. This success, and others like it, has been achieved thanks to forward-thinking cultural partnerships which are changing the outlook and aspirations of the city. The University is proud to be playing a lead role in these developments, and will continue to look for opportunities to enhance and promote Plymouth as an outstanding place for arts education and experiences.”
The University has played a lead role in transforming Plymouth’s visual arts sector, which has been on an astonishing trajectory since it hosted the ‘British Art Show 7: In the Days of the Comet’ in 2011. That prestigious exhibition, which only tours the UK once every five years, established new partnerships among many of the city’s cultural organisations.
Since then a range of other high profile shows and artists have been brought to the city and ‘Ambition for Excellence’ funding has been secured from ACE to help develop the sector further.
That has included establishing the Plymouth Art Weekender, a three-day celebration of the city’s visual arts which takes place in late September and has quickly become the largest event of its kind in the country.
Cabinet Member for Culture Glenn Jordan said:
“This week’s announcement is so brilliant for the city. It shows the level of faith that national organisations like the Arts Council have in Plymouth, recognises the fantastic things that have been achieved by our cultural organisations in recent years and now gives us an opportunity to continue to raise the bar as we journey towards Mayflower 400 and beyond.”
Interim CEO for the Plymouth History Centre Paul Brookes said:
“Plymouth has come such a long way in a relatively short space of time and now the future is looking more exciting than ever. Our ambition for the History Centre is to build on this and be the best of the historic and the new – a home for excellence in arts, culture and creativity for Britain’s Ocean City. This massive injection of faith and funding from ACE will enable us to firmly embed visual arts into the fabric of what we do, creating a powerful visitor experience for everyone who engages with us.”
Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England said:
“We are extremely excited to be welcoming Plymouth History Centre into the National Portfolio. The major redevelopment of Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery and integration of Plymouth’s other historical collections and archives will position the History Centre as a significant regional centre for visual arts and heritage in the South West. Their partnership working with key cultural organisations and educational institutions is an excellent example of collaborative working across the city and the new venue will be a centre for education and training excellence. This investment in the History Centre will support the burgeoning cultural scene in Plymouth and further build the city’s national and international reputation in the run-up to the Mayflower anniversary celebrations in 2020.”