This week we learned that the bid for Heritage funding for our new art gallery and museum failed. This is disappointing news for all of us who had dreamt of putting Swindon back on the map and to begin to create a cultural heritage that everyone could be proud of. The message from the Trust produced below shows that there is no intention of giving up just yet.
The Trustees of the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust (The Trust) which leads the project to build a new museum and art gallery for Swindon, whilst disappointed at not being awarded a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), are determined to deliver a solution for Swindon’s great collections.
The Trust submitted a bid for £12.7m via HLF South West in November 2017, since when the proposal has been scrutinised at regional and national level and was found by the HLF to meet all the criteria and was deemed an important and worthwhile project for Swindon.
However, the HLF receives far more viable applications than it has the funds to support. On this occasion, the HLF has been unable to make a major award to the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery project.
The Chairman of the Trust, Robert Hiscox, said: “The work done on the bid has not been wasted, as the profile of Swindon’s culturally important collections has been raised locally and nationally, and has generated huge amounts of engagement around the importance of culture to the people of Swindon. We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received and want to thank everyone for all their hard work and passion.
“For the last few years we have been very focussed on the bid but now we have the opportunity to step back and explore options and look at alternative possibilities.
“Over the coming months we will be consulting with stakeholders and the public to get as much input as we can on how to fulfil our ambition to create something that will be transformational for Swindon and a source of civic pride that everyone can enjoy.”
Any new solution will be delivered in the context of revised Arts Council and HLF strategic funding frameworks, which will be launched next year.
The Leader of Swindon Borough Council, Cllr David Renard, said: “We are disappointed the Trust’s bid was not selected by the HLF but we will not let this setback dim our ambition for a new Museum and Art Gallery.
“The feedback we received from the HLF throughout the bid process was greatly encouraging and that, coupled with the huge show of public support we received, has made us even more determined to give our magnificent collections of art and historical artefacts an appropriate home.
“The benefits of a new museum and art gallery cannot be underestimated. It will not only encourage millions of people to Swindon, but act as a catalyst for significant investment in the surrounding area, acting as a symbol of our ambition for the town.
“We knew we were up against some extremely tough competition, but we are committed to regenerating the cultural quarter area which will also include the Wyvern Theatre over time. We will be working with the Trust, stakeholders and Swindon residents on all the available options and will announce these plans in due course.”