Museum to become a National Portfolio Organisation
Gunnersbury Park Museum is to receive £129,500 per year for the next three years after being made a National Portfolio Organisation in the latest round of Arts Council funding.
The award comes as the budgets of many London-based arts institutions have been slashed with resources switched to the rest of the country,
National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs), are chosen by the Arts Council England (ACE) based on their ability to deliver a ‘let’s create’ strategy engaging communities and individuals in arts, culture and heritage. The extra money for the local museum comes on top of funding provided by the National Lottery Heritage Fund project for earlier projects.
Much of the extra cash will go to the museum’s schools programme which will expand to include more outreach, enhanced digital learning and start a heritage careers-focussed programme for secondary schools. Focusing on further development, the museum will create a Community Cultural Champions programme, which will provide training and skills development for local people
A regularly changing exhibition programme, across both the museum and the park, as well as online and out in the wider community aims to celebrate the Creative Industries in Ealing and Hounslow – past, present and future - including well known sites such as the Isleworth and Ealing Studios.
The museum says it will work in partnership with the community to collect new objects and archive material of relevance to local people. These materials will form the centre of co-curated displays in permanent galleries.
David Babington Smith, Chair of the Directors at Gunnersbury Estate (2026) CIC said, “This is excellent news for Gunnersbury, and for west London, as the first organisation to receive NPO status in Ealing. We are very grateful to the Arts Council England for this significant grant towards our learning and museum services, which will allow us to bring more arts, culture and heritage engagement opportunities to the residents of Ealing and Hounslow.”
Hounslow Council’s Cabinet Member for Parking, Parks and Leisure, Councillor Salman Shaheen said, “I’m delighted that Gunnersbury Park has been recognised by the Arts Council as a National Portfolio Organisation. By becoming a National Portfolio Organisation, Gunnersbury becomes the second organisation in West London to be recognised by the Arts Council, following Brentford’s Waterman’s Park. Gunnersbury has been rightly praised for its ability to engage communities with compelling arts and culture, and NPO recognition is testament to all the hard work by Gunnersbury, the Council, and its partners. Core funding provided by the Arts Council ensures that the Park is able to work with the Hounslow and Ealing communities to deliver a best-in-class schools and exhibition programme, and manage the necessary staffing and resourcing requirements. We encourage visitors and residents alike to discover all that Gunnersbury Park & Museum has to offer, all year round.”
The announcement was also welcomed by Cllr Peter Thompson, the leader of the Conservative opposition group in Hounslow who said, “I am focused on making sure that more people in more places can enjoy arts and culture on their
doorstep and I will continue working with the Conservative Government to provide local
organisations with the funding and support they need.
“The funding being delivered by the Conservative Government will pay dividends across the
Brentford and Isleworth Constituency, boosting our local economy, creating jobs in the area, and bringing our communities closer together.”
There was less celebration across other venues in London as a shift in funding, first proposed by the previous culture secretary Nadine Dorries, saw their funding cut severely. The English National Opera (ENO) has announced that it will be relocating out of London to maintain its existence after its general funding was cut to zero to be replaced with a relocation grant. Other venues that will have to get by on less include the ICA, the Serpentine Galleries and the Camden Arts Centre. In all £32 million in regular funding has been lost across London with spending diverted to towns and cities considered to be culturally underfunded. As well as ENO, 24 arts organisations have been given money by ACE to relocate outside the capital by October 2024.
Other venues such as the Royal Opera House and the National Theatre also had their funding reduced and the Barbican Centre is to get nothing at all.
Arts Council England’s chair, Nicholas Serota, said when announcing the funding portfolio for 2023-26, “We’ve had to make invidious choices”.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said, "Many of our world-leading cultural organisations will be left devastated by this announcement of over £50m worth of government cuts to London’s arts funding. These cuts could not have come at a worse time as arts organisations already face a triple whammy of spiralling operating costs, soaring energy bills, and the impact of both the pandemic and the cost of living crisis on audience figures.
“London’s cultural organisations contribute billions and power our capital’s economic comeback as well as the wider UK economy every year, which is why they need continued investment. A strong London equals a strong UK that’s why I am urging the government to think again and reconsider the consequences of these detrimental cuts.”
London received the largest proportion of funding of any area, with the allocation of £152m a year, a third of the total with an attempt being made to spread spending to outer boroughs. Priority Places in London such as Brent will receive £18.8 million over three years; over £10.9 million more funding is going to the outer boroughs such as Hounslow and Harrow.
Jan De Schynkel, Arts and Culture Manager, Ealing Council said, “ Up until today, Ealing was one of the very few London boroughs without an Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio Organisations (NPO). Therefore, one of our strategic priorities was to support aspiring Ealing-based organisations to become an ACE NPO and/or attract outside NPOs to be based in Ealing. We are delighted with the news that Gunnersbury Park Museum will receive core support for the next 3 years as a new NPO. This is well-deserved and recognises Gunnersbury’s hard work of trying to engage meaningfully with people and places. This will build capacity to deliver transformational programmes and exhibitions that are vital and relevant for our diverse communities.”
Tonya Nelson, Area Director, London, Arts Council England, said, “Our aim has been to support a broad range of organisations and artforms in every corner of London, with a clear focus on ensuring that investment goes into places that, historically, have been underserved including London’s outer boroughs. Funding these new organisations and places, will help us inspire the next generation of cultural and artistic talent and increase opportunity for people of all communities and backgrounds.”
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