The go-ahead to undertake legal agreements connected to a £1.5million grant for work on Turner Contemporary has been approved by Kent County Council.
The county council money, plus a £495,000 contribution from Arts Council England, will be used to reconfigure and update Turner Contemporary (TC) and the Rendezvous site in Margate.
The project, which will be carried out in two phases, in January and then major works in September next year, will include the creation of an 86 space, fee charged car park to bring income into the gallery.
Cash will be used for a finishing kitchen – to cater for events and conferences- and shop upgrades, install LED lighting to reduce running costs, carry out a broadband upgrade and introduce AV equipment .
There will also be automatic front and gallery doors to improve access, and increased and upgraded toilets, new signs, a CCTV upgrade and external storage.
County council funding
The latest grant is in addition to some £11,3million in county council grants, on top of an initial £6.4 million of the original £17.5 million spend on the art gallery build, between 2011 and March 31, 2019.
County council contributions, according to accounts lodged with the Charity Commission and, prior to that, Companies House, are for core funding, the Rendezvous site and various projects. These include this year’s Turner Prize for which KCC contributed £40,000.
In the financial year 2018-2019 the gallery’s total income amounted to £3,125,404. Expenditure amounted to £2,877,691.
In 2017-18 the income was £3,375,724 with expenditure of £2,695,452.
Kent County Council’s core grant in 2014 and again in 2015 was £990,000 per tax year. In 2016 the grant was £890,000 and 2017 it was £840,000.
In 2018 and 2019 (up until March 31) the amount was £790,000.This was in addition to Rendezvous funds of £295,000, capital funds of £10,235 and Creative Coast funding of £10,000 – making some £1.145million in the 2018-19 financial year.
The need to upgrade
At a county council meeting where members approved going ahead with legal agreements related to the latest sum Cllr Sarah Hohler, who is a Turner Contemporary trustee, said: “It is our (KCC) project and our building. It needs reconfiguring to keep up the standard.”
Calling the original KCC decision to go ahead with the project “brave and bold,” Cllr Hohler said it had been a huge success with 3million visitors -double the predicted yearly numbers – generating £70million in the local economy and being the driver for 40 new businesses in the Old Town and Cliftonville.
KCC’s Corporate Director Growth, Environment and Transport Barbara Cooper told councillors investment had originally been proposed at £6million to create a new wing at Turner Contemporary.
This scheme has been dropped in favour of the £2million project.
She added: “It is something we need to do in order to equip Turner Contemporary with the best chance it’s got for the next ten years.”
Thanet councillor Ros Binks raised the issue of the costs, saying: “I look at this list and I do not see £2million.” She also questioned why works needed to be undertaken just eight years into the life of the building.
It was agreed a breakdown of costs would be shared after the meeting. Cllr Cooper said the huge number of visitors meant some areas, such as the toilets, were “looking tired.”
RNLI and Margate Yacht Club
Councillors approved going ahead with a Memorandum of Understanding and Collaboration Agreement with Turner Contemporary, the RNLI, Margate Yacht Club and Arts Council England.
Margate RNLI and Margate Yacht Club both use the Rendezvous site.
Margate Yacht Club recently put its Fort Hill property up for sale with plans to reinvest into facilities.
Margate RNLI has been investigating options for a new base.
The RNLI will be served notice on the site, at latest when the lease expires in April 2021, for the current boathouse which is based behind Turner Contemporary.
The current site will become untenable as Turner Contemporary carries out the expansion plans RNLI investigatory works at the harbour were carried out last year.
Tony Witton, KCC;’s Arts and Culture service manager, told the meeting that work to “refresh and review” costs was ongoing.
He added: “We believe we have got the best value packages for each element of work. Challenges are working in an existing building. The gallery has high quality finishes that we need to match.”
He also said KCC was ‘working very closely’ with Margate RNLI and Margate Yacht Club, saying it was evident it is important for the yacht club to have that local base and “we are working to make sure that remains.”
Research on benefits to Thanet
A Turner Contemporary spokesperson said: “Since opening in 2011, the impact of Turner Contemporary has exceeded all expectations. It has welcomed 3.4million visits and worked with over 100,000 children and young people to offer them the opportunity to access world class art and develop vital creative skills.
“Independent research shows that opening Turner Contemporary has benefited the local economy by £70million through more people visiting the local area and spending at local businesses, the creation of jobs and the gallery’s use of local suppliers.
“It’s success has been recognised nationally and internationally, most recently the gallery’s iconic building was chosen to feature on the new £20 note and is currently hosting Turner Prize 2019, the most prestigious prize for contemporary art in the world.
“It has worked to change perceptions and raise aspirations in one of the most deprived areas in the UK and has had proven economic and social impact. There is still considerable work to do and Margate’s creative ecology remains fragile.
“Going forward, the capital scheme, delivered in partnership with Kent County Council and Arts Council England, will enable the gallery to build on its success to date and support it in its journey to becoming more sustainable, bringing increased opportunities to drive income.
“The capital scheme will make improvements to the well-used public areas within the gallery, thereby ensuring that it continues to offer excellent visitor experience. However, the gallery’s ongoing work to inspire change for the community relies on public investment as well as generous donations from trusts, foundations and individuals. Across the UK, many national and regional museums amd galleries are in receipt of public investment to deliver great art for everyone.
“These facts are drawn from independent research undertaken by Canterbury Christ Church University. The university conducts surveys and uses robust sample sizes and economic modelling drawn from the Treasury to calculate Turner Contemporary’s impact.”
KCC contributions (according to Charity Commission and Companies House account documents)
2019 (up until March 31) core £790,000, Turner Prize £40,000, Rendezvous £295,000, Capital funds of £10,235 and Creative Coast funding of £10,000
Kent County Council – Core £790,000, Rendezvous £295,000, Capital £15,120, Creative Coast £14,000
Kent County Council – Core £840,000, Rendezvous £295,000
Kent County Council – Core £840,000, Rendezvous £295,000, Programme £30,430
Kent County Council – Core £990,000, Rendezvous £295,000. Other £40,730, Capital £17,000
Kent County Council- Core £990,000, Rendezvous £295,000, Other £8000
Kent County Council – Core £1,091,400, Rendezvous £295,000, Other £175,978
Local authority grants £1,426,676
Local authority grants – £1,137,982