Turner Contemporary remains open during £1.6 million maintenance programme works

Works taking place at Turner Contemporary Photo Frank Leppard

Works underway at Turner Contemporary as part of a ten year maintenance programme are expected to cost £1.6million.

The project to remove, renovate and reinstall the glass cladding at the building started in September with a predicted 42 week schedule.

The work, being carried out by Thanet firm WW Martin, is being funded by Kent County Council which owns the freehold to the site.

Despite extensive scaffolding the gallery is open to the public and will remain so while the maintenance is carried out.

There is a lifecycle fund for the gallery and the county council sets aside an annual contribution for upcoming maintenance. The works currently required needed an additional contribution from the council’s maintenance budgets to ensure the site meets all new building regulations.

Photo Frank Leppard

A Kent County Council spokesman said: “The works to Turner Contemporary include the removal, renovation and reinstallation of the current glass cladding system – including some broken panels – as part of a 10-year maintenance plan.

“The budgeted cost is £1.6million.

“The temporary removal of the cladding provides the opportunity to ensure the structure meets all new building regulations.

“The project, commissioned by KCC and carried out by Ramsgate company WW Martin as the main contractor, is scheduled to take up to 42 weeks, subject to favourable weather conditions, and the gallery will remain open – during its normal hours – throughout.

“KCC owns the freehold of the site and it has a lease in place with the trust. The council has contractual responsibilities to undertake certain repairs at the gallery and ensure that the building’s condition is appropriately maintained.

“The gallery is an asset which is a key plank of the regeneration agenda for one of the county’s most challenged districts.”

Income and outgoings

In Turner Contemporary accounts for the year ending March 2022 it shows a total income of £2,579,203 (2021: £2,833,863). Expenditure amounted to £3,098,367 (2021: £2,383,881 ), meaning a net deficit for the year of £519,164 (surplus for 2021: £449,981).

The deficit for the financial year is mainly due to the receipt in 2021 of restricted funds that were spent this year.

Turner Contemporary ended the financial year with consolidated unrestricted funds of £837,462 (2021: £717, 199) an increase of £120,263. The gallery board aims to build a surplus in order to develop an operating reserve.

Core funding for 2022 from KCC was £510,000 and £681,791 from Arts Council England. Other grants for the year included £18,000 from Thanet council in relation to a Restart Grant which was paid by Civica.

Sonia Boyce exhibition

Sonia Boyce’s Feeling Her Way at the British Pavilion © British Council

The gallery is due to host Sonia Boyce’s exhibition Feeling Her Way, from February 2023.

Commissioned by the British Council for the British Pavilion, the installation combines video, collage, music and sculpture to present a body of work that centres around the vocal experimentation of five Black female musicians.

Featuring Jacqui Dankworth, Poppy Ajudha, Sofia Jernberg, Tanita Tikaram, and composer Errollyn Wallen, these intergenerational musicians were brought together by Boyce at Abbey Road Studios in London and Atlantis Studios in Stockholm to improvise with their voices. Colour-tinted video works take centre stage among tessellating wallpapers, created by Boyce, and golden 3-D geometric structures..

Sonia Boyce said: “I am so excited Turner Contemporary will be hosting Feeling Her Way for the first leg of the exhibition’s tour. To see the evolution of this project back in the UK feels incredibly significant to me, especially in Margate, which is coming into its own as a dynamic cultural hotspot.”

With the support of the Art Fund, the exhibition will run from 4 February – 8 May 2023.



  1. How on earth does a ten year old building need £1.6 million spent on maintenance?
    Start charging people to go in and stop relying on handouts.

    • Agree, it sounds, when you read,it incomes is x millions pounds from sustainable income,what it does not say it is all grants,charge £10 a year to go in,and see what happens,lead weight on KCC and TDC shoulders ,so in 2032another £2m needed for maintenance,it will never end every ten years getting bigger each decade until, wait ,they will have to have a complete rebuild costing multi millions ,and the art backers say it’s free,double not make it up merry Christmas everyone ,comes early for art

    • Why bother when you rely on KCC & TDC to stump up nearly 600k between them & the Arts Council to throw even more at you every year & most years probably more for the last decade plus & KCC to pay for the repairs?

      Meanwhile TDC are scampering around trying to find a pittance of 17k to implement the low speed restrictions to save lives around Dane Valley, Salmestone & other areas & the swimming pool had to beg to get the cash to repair the roof to benefit the entire community that will have not been able to use it for over a year & not just a few dozen pretentious toffs feeding their egos.

      There will always be money no matter how much their budgets get cut to fund these vanity ‘art’ projects-which should all be funded by the multi millionaire dirty bed seller & her pals, since they bring nothing of value to the area.

  2. At least KCC have a maintenance programme for buildings it owns and tries to look after them.

    If this would have been TDC, it would have been falling apart just before TDC declared they couldn’t afford to repair it and put it up for sale.

  3. Totally agree we have the Winter Gardens that needs maintenance but funny how the white elephant gets another hand out, how they can say its free is laughable, when will this council and kcc realise the money pit this monstrous looking building is.

  4. But didn’t the kcc plead with the government a month or so ago. That they were broke. This is being funded by council tax .

    • They always have money to feed the rich artists colossal egos & the dozens of ‘art’ galleries/hubs so ‘vital’ to Thanet.

  5. As always expect that amount to double or more. they could save a lot of money by just hiring a bulldozer & knocking it to the ground. Would improve the look tenfold & nobody would notice the difference between that & the garbage exhibited in there.

  6. i totally agree with steve , the whole thing is beyond a joke , its of zero use or interest to the average person in the street , its not only a blot on the landscape its clearly turning into a liabilty to us born an bred locals

  7. Victorians built to last. Nowadays well build to last 10 years !

    How can a 10 year old building need 1.6 million maintenance. If I had an architect design be a building and say it would need 1.6 million maintenance after 10 years I would find another architect.

    Who signed off this design ?

    I wonder if this maintenance would go ahead if the Turner centre had to pay for it ?

    Time for Turner centre to prove how good it is and refuse our taxes and stand on it’s own two feet.

    Never going to happen

    • Let’s do the work on the outside at the worst time of the year!that will increase the work cost, reduced work days and insurance claim for storm damage incurred during serve weather. “Smart”!

    • your right Mr X, it is normal Leasehold practice for the owner to charge leaseholders in advance for long term maintenance, such as this, its called a “Sinking Fund”. So, did KCC include a “Sinking Fund” in the lease? My guess it didn’t, so now there is no money to pay for long term maintenance, and once again the poor old rate payers of Thanet, and Kent are having to fork out due to lack of professional prudence!

  8. KCC own the freehold. Here’s an idea charge the tenant rent and that will cover any maintenance etc

    Could I get a building from KCC for nothing ?

  9. Are these works part of or in addition to the rewiring/ new lighting and associated works of about a year or so back?

    • Looks to me as it’s in addition to the previous 2m internal refurb, so around 3.6 million or 20% of original build cost to keep it upto scratch after only 11 years. Who on earth would accept a design on that basis? The cynic in me rather assumes that the original facade had a guarantee for 10 years and the works should really have been done under guarantee but it’s been decided to swerve that nasty bun fight.
      Hardly bodes well for maintenance and repair costs when the building actually does get a bit older.

  10. Are those in as you state in “solidarity’ all shouting left wing slogans ?
    Maybe those who are rather self promoting smug agent provocateurs should perhaps kick up more of a fuss over funding for local projects .

  11. I resent my council tax money (most of which goes to KCC, not TDC) being used to support this museum which offers free entry. Those who want to visit should be charged – even if only £5 per person that would go a long way to paying for the upkeep of the gallery. And the Turner should do its own fund-raising events throughout the year as all charities have to do In order to function.

    My tax pounds should be spent on projects which benefit a majority not a minority and repairing roads would be a good start or funding axed bus routes.

    Barry Lewis you are very vocal on matters when you want to be, so maybe you should take all these comments into consideration and start working on our behalf on reducing funding for the Turner.

  12. Shame on Turner Contemporary. Still have not paid Redundancy payments to staff booted out during Covid. Even after an Industrial Tribunal found in favour of one claimant…do they ALL have to go to court? Before you lot stump up?

    • Could the reason be that as the Turner centre doesnt earn any money to pay redundancy. Perhaps the terms of the loans and grants etc state it’s for art only.

      Either way redundancy should have been paid by now.

  13. I don’t want it gone. I just want it to pay its flipping way. Is this why it has started offering ‘warm spaces’ to those in need – to soften this particular blow?

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