Visual arts organisations including Spike Island in Bristol, Aspex in Portsmouth, Pallant House Gallery in Chichester and Towner Trust, which runs Towner Gallery in Eastbourne, are among 39 organisations to benefit in the latest round of Arts Council England’s small capital grants awards totalling £10.8 million.

Ranging from £100,000 – £500,000, the grants enable organisations to make improvements to buildings and equipment, to become more sustainable businesses, and to progress innovative digital strategies.

Aspex has been awarded £158,504 to develop a larger space for its programme of participation workshops and events, along with the creation of new mobile participation studio to support greater outreach to local communities in and around Portsmouth.

The organisation, which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, will also redevelop a former education space into an artist’s residency studio which will be accessible to visitors, enabling them to engage directly with artists while they work.

Aspex’s director Joanne Bushnell said: “[The award] will enable us to develop our building to improve its facilities for audiences and artists, whilst also reducing our environmental impact improving our sustainability.”

Improvements and essential repairs

Spike Island will use its award of £499,976 to make a number of improvements and essential repairs to its building, a former tea packing factory on the city’s historic harbour side, housing studios, a gallery and café. The grant kick-starts a planned programme of work that, as director Helen Legg explains, “will ensure continued support for one of the largest creative communities outside of London well into the future”.

The work forms part of the organisation’s plan to become increasingly self-sufficient and environmentally friendly by lowering power costs and enabling new income generation. Alongside the installation of a new energy efficient LED system, new boiler and roof repair, the award will also help to improve its digital infrastructure and office facilities.

Other visual arts organisations to receive awards include Pallant House Gallery which will invest £191,336 in the development of a new fine art store for the preservation and development of its collection. Towner Trust will use its £450,000 award to build an auditorium in the ground floor of Towner Art Gallery in order to offer a year-round programme of artists’ moving image and digital works, alongside films, talks and events.

Speaking about the awards, ACE’s chief executive Darren Henley said: “This funding provides support to get many vital projects off the ground, ensuring the successful applicants have the right facilities and equipment to support and deliver their excellent work across the country.”

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