Turner Contemporary gains £1.7 million funding for gallery building improvements

Turner Contemporary Photo Frank Leppard

Turner Contemporary has been awarded £495,000 from the Arts Council and given £1.28 million from Kent County Council to make improvements to the gallery.

The cash will pay for improved visitor facilities, which include a redesign of the shop area and installation of new furniture. The work will also support improved environmental sustainability and enhancements to the digital facilities.

The programme of works, undertaken in partnership with Kent County Council, will enable Turner Contemporary to increase its long-term financial future in the face of monetary challenges for small-scale arts charities.

Clive Stevens, Chair of Turner Contemporary said: “We are thrilled to have been awarded the funding to deliver a Small Scale Capital project in partnership with Kent County Council and Arts Council England.

“The capital programme will enhance the visitor experience for the thousands of individuals that visit Turner Contemporary each year. As we approach our 10th anniversary in 2021, this project will also support our  ongoing sustainability as we work to ensure that Turner Contemporary continues to thrive and drive the regeneration of Margate and East Kent.”

Michael Hill, OBE, Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services added: “Kent County Council continues to support Turner Contemporary and its success to date. We recognise its growth aspirations, and the vast benefits that culture and the creative industries bring to the local economy.

“We are delighted with the news of funding from Arts Council England and look forward to working in partnership with both Turner Contemporary and Arts Council England to realise the capital programme”

The investment follows almost 10 years of operation, in which Turner Contemporary has attracted 3.4million visits.  The gallery was initially forecast to attract 150,000 visits per year, and instead achieves 375,000 – 400,000 per year.

The gallery is currently hosting the most prestigious prize for contemporary arts in the world, Turner Prize 2019.

Turner Contemporary is working with KCC to ensure that any disruption to the gallery’s activity is minimised. Project details are currently being finalised and it is ex[ected that the works will be carried out over a phased period in 2020-21.

Read here: Early designs for Turner Contemporary expansion revealed


  1. If they need £1.7 million why not start charging a nominal £10 entrance fee to go in to this wonderful place. This would sort out the real art lovers, and the people who just use the really nice toilets. I am sure the new leader of KCC would rather keep it himself to top up his small salary. Or £1.7 million could be spent in many better ways, if this money it is going spare. I fail to see how this eyesore can ever be called successful until it pays its way and stops sucking up money.

  2. Why does 1:75 million go to arts when the arty community can easily afford to pay an entrance fee to fund this. Than the 1:75 could be spent on the wider public….like food banks, etc

  3. I too believe that if the Turner so desperately needs this money then an entrance fee should be charged. If KCC have £1.7 spare there are far worthier causes which would help those more in need. Top of my list would be good public toilet facilities here in Margate – on the Harbour Arm and at the Clock Tower which could be used by all those visiting Margate and even us locals when we are out and about!!! I remember having to put 1d in the slot at the toilets at the Clock Tower back in the 60s – and wouldn’t object to paying to use good public toilets today.

  4. As a former Art Gallery curator I find these grants appalling when Kent and Margate are in such a dire situation over so many more significant pressing issues. It is very important that Kent politicians openly condemn them, particularly our MPs and County Council members. How can they be silent??

  5. It is disgusting that that sort of money is spent on the middle and upper class arty people when the ordinary people need help like mental health, schools, nhs, homeless the list goes on . But KCC have sone spare cash thats spend it on the shed ,….disgusting

  6. Has the Isle of Thanet News ever been able to tell how much Turner Contemporary and its impressive list of Trustees been able to raise to supplement the large public grants that it has received? Has any of this money raised gone to improvements in addition to funds for exhibitions? The people of Kent, not just Thanet, should be told

  7. I hope that ALL the KCC Councillors were able to see the audited annual accounts of Turner Contemporary before deciding on a grant of such size and that they asked for information on the size of non public funding
    I imagine that the Arts Council insisted on knowing this

  8. Well, what a surprise, KCC can find £1.7m for an upgrade to a facility built for the arty farty wealthy from London yet Thanet and Margate in particular are in the top 5 most deprived parts of Britain. Tells you all you need to know about where the Tories priorities are. Not with the poorest and underprivileged here in Thanet. Perfect timing, just when there is an election and an opportunity to get rid of this rotten government both nationally and locally. Come on folks smell the coffee.

  9. To take just 4 examples, it would be far better if KCC provided the funds to maintain Thanet Age Concern’s service at Bradstow Court in Rumsfield Road, the maintenance of Wayfarers Care Home in Sandwich. the Westbrook House Care Centre and The Thanet Disabled Riding Centre at Maurice House . Readers will no doubt be able to add other places in Thanet far more deserving and needing KCC funds!

  10. I think that only 16 comments have been posted shows that most people in thanet are happy that nearly 2 million quid is going to the arty shed. Thanet isn’t the place I grew up were we knew our neighbour’s and you thought your mates were posh if their dad had a new cortine. Now thanet is full of top end cars , Ferrari’s, Lamborghini, and Porsche and jaguar’s are almost the most common car in the area. Than we have homelessness, high pvt rent, low paid jobs, food banks, a well and truly broken thanet.
    Nearly 2 million on art in one of the poorest or not so poor depending on your luck, is just so wrong but I guess I dont live in the arty world so sod me !

  11. The Arts Council for some time has required proposed institutional recipients to substantially more than match its grants for projects like this. Did KCC jump at the idea of nearly half a million pounds without fully taking into account more serious financial requirements for resources for those who need care by reason of age, health and physical limitations which it is already having considerable problems in meeting?
    The inhabitants of Thanet do need to know what attempts have been made to go to the private sector etc to meet the costs estimated for the works intended – and also to know if these are really needed at this time
    It would be good to hear the views and arguments from our Thanet representatives on the KCC on this subject

  12. Are our Tory MP. KCC Councillors and TDC Councillors ‘FRIT’ in the word of their !blessed! former Prime Minister of expressing any opinion on this grant when Thanet and Kent are crying out for the money to be better expended!

Comments are closed.