Tate Modern, Stonehenge, BFI and British Museum win in massive round of government funding

By Culture24 Staff | 15 October 2009
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A picture of a circular glass cinema lit up at night

(Above) The BFI's London IMAX cinema. Robert Aleck, www.cynexia.com

A £45 million national film centre at London's South Bank, a £33 million storage centre for the British Library’s vast newspaper collection, a £50 million extension to the Tate Modern and a £22.5 million investment in the World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre at the British Museum have been announced by the government in an unprecedented round of funding.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the huge outlay for "flagship cultural projects" would "help secure Britain's future as a world leader in the creative industries."

It will be launched at the British Film Institute's National Film Centre, where five screens will showcase the best of British and world cinema alongside new exhibitions, events, research and study spaces.

A picture of the outside of a large brick building

The extension to Tate Modern, originally announced in 2007, will cost around £50 million

"Britain has achieved worldwide respect for its innovative and vibrant film industry, exceptional arts and rich cultural heritage. This project creates a new home for British film right at the heart of London's cultural centre on the South Bank," said Brown.

"These are challenging economic times but with backing from the public and private sector, the commitment to the new BFI National Film Centre demonstrates the Government's continuing support for the arts in Britain, and our determination to invest in leading creative industries as part of our economic recovery.

"This is a great British success story and shows what can be achieved with a Government that backs talent and gets behind industry."

The film centre adds to the £25 million the government has already pledged for the BFI's film archive.

an architects digital recreation of a visitor centre

The new visitor centre at Stonehenge, which had a planning application submitted this week, will gain £10 million in DCMS investment. © English Heritage

At Stonehenge, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Ben Bradshaw said a £10 million pledge to the new visitor centre would “ensure the continued vibrancy of the country’s cultural infrastructure.”

"Stonehenge is one of our best-known historic attractions, but facilities for visitors are below par," he admitted.

"This will mean Stonehenge will be ready to cope with all the extra visitors expected because of the Olympics. The capital investment means our most iconic World Heritage Site will finally be able to welcome visitors in a way that is fitting to its international importance."

A close-up picture of newsprint

The largest newspaper collection in the world, held at a dilapidated site by the British Library, will benefit from a £33 million new storage centre in Yorkshire

The new building at Tate Modern, originally announced in 2007, will increase the gallery's size by 60%, allowing more of the permanent collection to be displayed.

At The British Museum, the Conservation Centre will house laboratories and studios, a gallery for special exhibitions, stores and improved facilities.

The British Library's collection of every local and national newspaper published in the UK will move from its dilapidated Colindale home – where 15% of the collection has already been damaged beyond use and 19% remains "in peril" – to a storage site in Yorkshire, allowing digital and microfilm access to the 750 million-page archive from the Library’s London headquarters at St Pancras.

"This project will secure the collection's future and benefit the whole nation," said Dame Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library.

"Our plans are already advanced with a number of key contractors already in place. We are 'shovel ready' and this commitment will allow us to start building in 2010."

David Fordham, President of the Newspaper Society, called the collection "a most remarkable asset to the country" with "an unrivalled richness and depth of interest".

Mr Bradshaw said the funding symbolised the government's commitment to culture and the arts.

"Britain's arts and cultural life are the envy of the world and make a huge contribution to the quality and fabric of our individual and national lives," he added.

"They also have a vital economic role in encouraging overseas and domestic tourism, creating jobs, and nurturing and supporting our creative industries."

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