Colchester Firstsite art gallery gets £700k for improvements

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Image source, Jayne Lloyd
Image caption,
Firstsite gallery in Colchester won Museum of the Year in 2021

An award-winning art gallery is being given almost £700,000 for improvements to its building despite it being only 10 years old.

Firstsite in Colchester, Essex, won the Art Fund Museum of the Year award last year.

The gallery will use most of the money to replace its lighting and improve its cinema.

Director Sally Shaw said the "exciting enhancements will also ensure we are fit for purpose in a post-Covid world".

The money was from a £22.7m investment programme by Arts Council England to help venues after the pandemic.

Firstsite has been given £696,524 the majority of which, £582,175, will be used to replace all the existing light fittings with LED equivalents.

The gallery, which moved to its new premises in September 2011, said it would reduce its carbon emissions and energy usage by 68%, saving it £41,000 annually.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The gallery in Colchester has been praised for its exhibitions and community work

Almost £110,000 will be spent on new projection equipment and an upgrade to the sound system at the gallery's cinema.

The floor in the studios is also due to be replaced, while another nearby building, owned by the gallery, will be renovated and hearing loops in the building will be expanded.

Ms Shaw said: "We can begin a series of improvements that will have a major impact on Firstsite's operating model, helping us to reduce our carbon emissions and dramatically improve both the quality and accessibility of our spaces for everyone in our community."

She added the improvements would be "the first in a series of projects that we will deliver to achieve net-zero carbon by 2030".

The gallery picked up £100,000 last year as its prize for winning Art Fund Museum of the Year.

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