It was confirmed this morning that ACE would continue to support the gallery, as one of the UK’s National Portfolio Organisations.
The contemporary art gallery, which last year moved into The Forum Southend-on-Sea, alongside the public and academic libraries, will receive £550,000 over the next three years to continue to deliver a programme of exhibitions and offsite projects of an international standard in the heart of the town.
Joe Hill, who was recently appointed as the gallery’s new Director, says: “This funding comes at a crucial time for Southend’s cultural landscape and is recognition of all that has been achieved by the team at the gallery. With the opening of our new space last September, the number of high-profile artists with international reputations coming to work in the town is growing. Visitor numbers to our exhibitions have more than doubled and we’re developing closer relationships with other cultural organisations in the region. This funding ensures we can sustain and develop a crucial space for contemporary art in south Essex.”
Since opening in The Forum Southend-on-Sea, the gallery has staged solo exhibitions by 2012 Turner-Prize winner Elizabeth Price, Jemima Stehli and David Mabb. Permanent artworks were also created for the space, including an installation by Mike Nelson, commissioned furniture by Marc Camille Chaimowicz, a public artwork by American artist Allen Ruppersberg and a bespoke reception desk designed by Southend-born artist Tris Vonna-Michell, who is nominated for this year’s Turner Prize.
The gallery also commissions offsite projects around Southend, including the project ‘Hammer House’ by Simon Martin, currently spanning the High Street’s Railway Bridge. Free family events, film screenings, reading salons and art clubs for children and young people are also regularly on offer in the gallery.
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Executive Councillor for Enterprise, Tourism and Economic Development, Councillor Graham Longley said: “Focal Point Gallery is really helping to develop and extend Southend’s reach as a cultural destination. We are very pleased to see how well it is thriving in its new home at The Forum Southend-on-Sea – a major joint library and learning hub created by a unique partnership between the Council, the University of Essex and South Essex College. We wish Focal Point Gallery every success in its forthcoming ventures and hope as many people as possible will see the ground-breaking exhibitions at the gallery.”
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About Focal Point Gallery
Focal Point Gallery is south Essex’s only publicly funded gallery for contemporary visual art. It currently produces up to seven gallery exhibitions each year with a focus on the experimental and visionary use of lens-based media. Each programme includes a series of educational activities and aims to establish ongoing collaborations with international arts institutions and a wide range of local community groups.
Previously located on the second floor of Southend Central Library, the gallery moved to The Forum building in Elmer Square, just next to the town’s central railway station (trains run regularly from Fenchurch Street). The move was made possible through funding by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Arts Council England’s capital funding. The gallery also receives regular support from both organisations and additional funding from other trusts and foundations.www.focalpoint.org.uk