NeobardBurnson Architects to transform the former Beecroft Art Gallery

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Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Focal Point Gallery are proud to announce that NeobardBurnson Architects have been appointed as the architect to transform the former Beecroft Art Gallery into a complex of artist studios to house a wide range of creative practices.

The site of the new studios, which are set to be officially named in the coming weeks, have been derelict since the Beecroft Art Gallery moved to its new home on Victoria Avenue.

Plans to turn the former gallery into studios were announced in the 2018/19 capital budget, adding to significant external funding raised by Focal Point Gallery and The Beecroft Trust. Through an application to Arts Council England’s small capital grants scheme, the project was awarded £495,000, with an additional £80,000 from Garfield Weston Foundation and Foyle Foundation. These grants cover the majority of the project costs.

NB Architects are an Essex based architectural practice working with both public and private sector clients engaged with a broad spectrum of design based projects. They are a team who work hard to exceed their clients brief and create spaces of which to be proud.

The project will meet the needs of the growing artistic community in Southend-on-Sea looking to make an inward investment in their own personal development, following a demand survey in 2016 which stated 73% of respondents would consider taking a studio at this site. It also contributes to the work of the Local Enterprise Partnership, cementing Southend-on-Sea as a key player in the Thames Estuary Production Corridor, which supports the growth of cultural talent and recognises skills honed in this sector provide enterprise and employment opportunities.

Cllr Lesley Salter, Cabinet Member for Healthy Communities and Wellbeing, said: “The announcement of Neobard Burnson as the architect is a major milestone in this exciting project. The project will offer local and international artists a professional space to work and do business, and will further establish Southend-on-Sea as the cultural hotspot for the South East.

“We must offer a special thank you to Manalo & White for their role in the design process of the new artists’ studios, who completed the first stage of work to secure funding and planning for the project. Working closely with both architectural firms, we are certain that the studios will represent Southend-on-Sea’s artistic influence for years to come.”

Rob Neobard of NB Architects, said: “We have a history of working alongside Southend-on-Sea Borough Council rejuvenating local buildings of specialist interest, notably competing the refurbishment of North Road Chapel. We enjoy being able to breathe new life into existing characterful buildings currently disused or under-utilised.
“We are so pleased therefore to be appointed project Architects for the full refurbishment of the original Beecroft Art Gallery, creating artists’ studios will fulfil a real demand for creative spaces in the Borough. This is a project where we are able to add value and will reinstate a currently disused building of historic importance as a valued cultural asset to the local and wider artistic community.”

In January 2018, hoardings were erected around the outside of the building. Local artist, David Watkins, was commissioned by Focal Point Gallery to create a temporary art installation on the hoardings. This work is inspired by the ‘six degrees of separation’, devised by American psychologist Stanley Milgram, outlining a visual map of interpersonal connections that link people into a community.

Anyone who has an interest in finding out more about the studios, or to register an interest in eventually holding a studio, please sign up to the mailing list at this link www.focalpoint.org.uk/artistsstudios/"

Please note that this is not a waiting list, further information will be relayed as the project progresses.

For more information about NeobardBurnson Architects, please visit http://www.neobardburnson.com/

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