Prestigious grant awarded to St Barbe

St Barbe Museum + Art Gallery has been awarded £150,000 per annum for the next 3 years as a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) as part of Arts Council England’s 2023-26 Investment Programme.

St Barbe Museum + Art Gallery, which is less than 25 years old, represents the history of the New Forest coast and produces national quality fine art exhibitions.

What does the grant mean to St Barbe? Our core ethos is to continue to build a creative community hub, which delivers high quality cultural experiences, inclusive and accessible to all. Currently this includes regular adult, family and community engagement programmes which aim to encourage and nurture imagination and creativity through arts, culture and heritage. For example, our Holiday Activity and Food Programme (HAF), for families on low income has been a great success, both in terms of providing cultural activities, a hot meal and signposting families to further help and support. We are currently developing programmes to take arts and culture out to New Forest villages and we are inviting our Young Curators to provide input into our programme.

Museum Director Maria Ragan says ‘We are incredibly proud of the huge impact our small museum is having locally, and we are grateful to have been awarded this funding by Arts Council England in recognition of our work in the local community and our commitment to invest in the future of our community’s access to culture. This vital support will help us continue our activities to engage a wider and more diverse audience across the New Forest.’

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture in England, and one of the biggest investments it makes is through its National Portfolio Organisations, which deliver the mainstay of creative and cultural provision across the country.  ACE has identified the New Forest as a Priority Place in its Levelling Up agenda. Of the 1,730 arts and cultural institutions who applied for funding across England, only 990 were successful, including just 82 museums. It is a remarkable achievement for St Barbe, a small independent museum, to join this very select group, most of which are part of much larger organisations.  

Arts Council England Chair, Sir Nicholas Serota, said: ‘We are facing economic pressures at present but this funding is about an investment in our future. This portfolio will support the next generation of visionary inventors, makers, performers and artists. In particular, the growth of our funding for organisations that support and develop work for children represents a profoundly important long-term investment in our country’s talent.’  

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  1. You’ve done well in an extremely competitive environment. This is a great opportunity to consolidate recent developments in the programme and further expand the community St Barbe serves.


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