Gainsborough's House expansion hits key fundraising milestone after receiving £250k grant
Ambitious plans for a major expansion of Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury are set to be brought into reality, after a quarter-of-a-million pound grant pushed the proposal to a key fundraising milestone.
The Gainsborough’s House Society’s ‘Reviving an Artist’s Birthplace’ project is now set to finally begin construction work, after the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) approved a grant of £250,000 from its Growing Places Fund.
The funding will be used to help deliver the National Centre for Thomas Gainsborough, a large extension that will double the size of the current Gainsborough’s House, with three new display galleries, a new café and a new art studio.
The society is still working to raise another £450,000 to reach its overall target of £8.7 million, with the bulk raised from a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of around £5 million, subject to the grant receiving final approval at the end of this month.
But Mark Bills, director of Gainsborough’s House, stated they are absolutely thrilled to have raised enough to at last get the ball rolling on the project.
He said: “The support of New Anglia LEP has meant that Gainsborough’s House, one of the region’s great cultural assets, can be developed into a national centre, bringing much needed economic regeneration and cultural tourism to the area.
“We are delighted and grateful for the funding.”
The 526-square metre expansion of the museum, which outlines the life and work of Sudbury-born artist Thomas Gainsborough, has been projected to create 90 direct new jobs, 31 indirect new jobs and five apprenticeships, and attract 75,000 extra paying visitors within three years of opening.
Doug Field, chairman of the New Anglia LEP, explained their decision to share this funding is a recognition of how vital the cultural sector is to driving Suffolk’s visitor economy.
Mr Field said: “The East is rich in heritage and culture, and Gainsborough’s House is among our most valuable assets.
“These projects will make a tangible contribution to that offer, while making the East an even more inspiring place to live, work, visit and invest.”
As part of the project, the original historic buildings and existing visitor facilities will also undergo a comprehensive refurbishment.
Cllr John Ward, leader of Babergh District Council, said: “This funding from the New Anglia LEP is fantastic news for Gainsborough’s House, as it will help to create jobs and apprenticeships and attract more visitors.
“Earlier this year, Babergh District Council decided to gift Gainsborough’s Chambers to the Gainsborough’s House Society, because we know their Reviving an Artist’s Birthplace project will have a huge economic and cultural impact on Sudbury both in terms of jobs and tourism.”