‘Artwork lending library’ among plans after £1million grant for National Glass Centre and Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art

ames Bustard, director of the National Glass Centre
ames Bustard, director of the National Glass Centre
Have your say

THE future of Sunderland’s National Glass Centre has been guaranteed for the next four years after it shared in a £1million Arts Council boost.

The glass centre and the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (NGCA) in Fawcett Street have been awarded £1,045,891 in Arts Council England’s National Portfolio funding.

The announcement comes as the Glass Centre celebrates the first anniversary of its reopening after a £2.3million redevelopment.

The revamped centre was given a special commendation in last year’s Sunderland Echo Portfolio Business Awards because the judges were so impressed with what had been achieved.

Director James Bustard said: “This is fantastic news for National Glass Centre and is testament to Arts Council England’s ongoing commitment to developing access to the arts and culture in the city of Sunderland.

“We are looking forward to working in close partnership with Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art over the next three years to further improve the city’s contemporary art and craft provision.”

Plans for the next three years include:

•Bringing important collections of glass to National Glass Centre, including exhibitions from Northlands and American glass from the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, USA.

•Delivering a collaborative show with NGCA and the city Museum and Winter Gardens, drawn from Arts Council and Crafts Council Collections.

•Bringing contemporary glass art festival GLASSTRESS to Wearside.

•Continuing work to deliver joint programmes aimed at children and young people, including a Sorrell Foundation initiative that gives young people aged 14–16 a unique opportunity to study art and design every Saturday morning at their local college or university, free of charge.

Based on the top floor of the City Library, NGCA has also begun to show artworks throughout the building since the relaunch of the library after a half-a-million pound refit in 2012.

As well as its share of the Arts Council cash, the gallery is also one of just three venues in the region to have been awarded a special extra grant of £100,000.

The money will allow bosses to undertake an essential revamp and repairs to NGCA’s galleries and provide a home to house a new collection of artworks they are planning to assemble for the future.

“Between 2015 and 2018, NGCA will work more closely with Sunderland’s other key venues – Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, and the National Glass Centre,” said director Alistair Robinson.

“In spring 2015, all three will stage a single exhibition across their galleries, bringing artworks from some of the best collections in the country to Sunderland to show what collecting can achieve.”

“NGCA will start its own collection of art in conjunction with its partners so that, like other cities, we make sure that future generations can see what the best artists of today were making.”

Next year, the gallery will show works by photographers The Caravan Gallery who will ask ‘What is it that makes Sunderland a special place? What souvenir would you give to a visitor?’ and invite residents to identify the best and worst things about the city.

Management are also looking at an ‘Art Lending Library’ which will allow people to borrow artworks, just as they do with books.