Hoardings up at former Beecroft Gallery

Published Tuesday, 23rd January 2018

Former Beecroft Gallery with hoarding

Hoardings have been erected around the former Beecroft Art Gallery in Westcliff as the Council works to transform it into much needed artists’ studios.

This week, the Council's cabinet confirmed its intention to set aside £300,000 in its capital budget in order to breathe new life into the building and ensure it continues to play an important role in the town’s burgeoning cultural scene.

The project received £495,000 from Arts Council England’s Small Capital Grants Fund, and £80,000 from the Foyle Foundation and Garfield Weston Foundation, equating to a potential total budget of £875,000 for the project.

The hoardings are currently white, but will soon see a newly painted commission by local artist David Watkins, to be installed in February, depending on weather conditions.

The Council is currently tendering for an architect to complete designs for the internal layout of the new galleries and expects to be in a position to announce the successful bidder next month.

The plans for the building include up to 23 studio spaces, covering a total of approximately 6000sqft of working space. Two floors will be fully accessible, which will include studios ring-fenced for disabled users.

Cllr Ann Holland, Executive Councillor for Culture, Tourism and the Economy, said: “Southend-on-Sea has increasingly established itself as the cultural hub for the East of England, and we are committed to supporting this achievement by developing new, exciting spaces to allow artists to grow and flourish.

“After reviewing results from a survey in 2016, in which 73% of respondents said they would consider using a studio in this location, our team at Focal Point Gallery have devised a set of plans to accommodate the need for more artist studio space within the town.

“The facilities will be of the highest quality, retaining original features of this well-loved building where possible, and to ensure energy efficiency, feasibility work is currently being undertaken to reduce carbon emissions.

David Watkin’s painting for the hoardings will be the first in a series of significant artworks commissioned by Focal Point Gallery for the site, which will reflect the nature of the building.”

If you would like to register your interest in taking up a space, or receive updates about the project, please visit the Focal Point Gallery website and enter your details.

The Council will consider the budget proposals at the following meetings:

29 to 31 January                  Scrutiny Committees debate budget proposals
13 February                         Cabinet meeting to consider final budget
22 February                         Full Council meeting (to set budget and council tax)