Funding applications for a dwindling pot of Arts Council England money were dispatched when the snow was still on the ground. Months later, as our host of golden daffodils faded, galleries, theatre companies and hundreds of other creative organisations found out their fates.
The news was welcoming for many young and innovative purveyors of the visual arts. Towner Gallery in Eastbourne, a dear friend of Ink Pellet, received double its funding to £375,000 per year from 2012. One exhibition opening this month caught this pair of eyes. It celebrates the vital role philanthropy (impeccable timing) plays in the celebration of art and how it can shape a gallery’s collection. Called The Art of Giving, it features works by Eric Ravilious, Paul Nash and others and sketches for the Berwick Church murals by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell. 

Image: Margate’s Turner Contemporary © Richard Bryant/

The Turner Contemporary in Margate has taken the national arts press to this faded corner of Kent. After years of planning (which included a failed attempt to build the gallery out at sea) the new space had an opening full of artistic pomp with Margate’s famous child Tracey Emin doing the honours alongside musician Jools Holland, now a deputy lieutenant of the county. If this super pair can make the establishment, this bodes well for the hopes that Turner Contemporary will bring much-needed regeneration to one of the country’s most celebrated – and maligned – seaside towns.
At the other end of the country, in Wakefield, The Hepworth aims to inspire with an awe-inspiring building designed by David Chipperfield Architects (the same group who created Turner Contemporary).The Hepworth Wakefield will feature a display of historic and modern art, alongside temporary exhibitions of contemporary art. It opens on May 21. Another winner in the funding round was the mima gallery in Middlesborough, which gained a rise in funding of 143 per cent. The beautiful building in the heart of the city opened four years ago to show modern contemporary art and craft by international and local artists. Open now is an exhibition called The Modern Jewel, a major new contemporary jewellery exhibition by Atelier Ted Noten and Lin Cheung & Laura Potter, who were commissioned to create pieces for the collection and the people of Middlesbrough. Look out for the Concrete Cushions exhibition, too, while you’re there – what a brilliant idea!
Liverpool’s Open Eye Gallery, which was established in 1977, came up trumps, too, but you will have to wait until autumn to see the goodies behind its new Waterfront doors. Quids in by a more modest 5 per cent, the gallery has a stunning archive of images covering this wonderful city’s history.
Finally, a warm welcome to the National Portfolio goes to Meadow Arts in Shropshire. The organisation commissions new works and produces temporary outdoor works of contemporary art in a variety of settings. This approach aims to encourage new people to enjoy the arts and link traditional, heritage places with new commissions from artists such as Philippa Lawrence, Mariele Neudecker and Clare Woods as well as existing works by Laura Ford and Juneau Projects. It used to seek funding for each project but thanks to a lovely £160,000 per year, its work will be used to extend its programme and exhibitions.

IMAGE: Philippa Lawrence, Barcode: FB814,  Meadow Arts Commission 2011, sited in the Mortimer Forest, Herefordshire.