Arts centre closing in on £1.5 million target
A university arts centre has raised £1 million towards the creation of a new gallery.
Embrace Arts, at the University of Leicester's Richard Attenborough Centre, plans to open a £1.5 million New Galleries wing at the centre in 2015.
The gallery, which is run by the university but open to the public, will be added to the centre in Lancaster Road, doubling the size of the building.
The glass-fronted extension will include double-height space for the display of large- scale contemporary artwork, and sculpture, with an outdoor sculpture court.
The project has received a promise of £600,000 from Arts Council England – adding to about £400,000 already raised through fund-raising and grants.
Professor Sir Robert Burgess, the university's vice-chancellor, said: "This is a significant and very welcome milestone for the project.
"We are extremely grateful to Arts Council England for its endorsement of our vision to create a national centre of excellence for inclusive arts practice in Leicester, to be enjoyed by local people and visitors to the city alike."
Embrace Arts co-director Michaela Butter said the gallery would make it easier for disabled people to use the centre.
She said: "This development will use the latest in technology, enabling disabled and non-disabled audiences to enjoy the very best of the contemporary arts in new and exciting ways.
"The original plans for the building had allowed for a more ambitious gallery space than was possible at the time, so we are delighted we can now take that vision forward 17 years since it first opened."
The application to Arts Council England was supported by city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby.
He said: "This will be another great quality cultural attraction in Leicester. Added to the amazing discovery of Richard III, it further strengthens Leicester's claim to become a City of Culture."
The university has already submitted applications to major grant givers to secure the remaining £500,000 needed, and is waiting to hear if it has been successful. The funding boost has been welcomed by other galleries in the city.
Hugo Worthy, exhibitions officer at the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, said: "I am thrilled that Embrace has secured this funding. It is a key addition to Leicester's visual art ecology and will provide amazing new opportunities to see and experience contemporary art."
Eric Rosoman, of The Great Central Gallery & Studios, in Sussex Street, added: "This new gallery space will help to bridge the gap between local artist-run spaces and museum exhibitions. We look forward to their exhibitions with interest and excitement."