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Gainsborough's House in Sudbury delighted by £121,000 grant from Government's Culture Recovery Fund as work on major extension continues

One of the main cultural venues in Sudbury has welcomed a significant influx of Government funding, to help it through the coming year as work continues on a multi-million pound refurbishment and extension.

Gainsborough’s House was awarded £121,614, as part of the latest round of grants announced this month by the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund (CRF), which confirmed nearly £400million in funding for more than 2,700 organisations nationally.

The money will be used to support Gainsborough’s House during another year without income, while it remains closed to allow for building works on its National Centre for Thomas Gainsborough project.

Gainsborough House Director, Mark Bills pictured at the Gainsborough House Print Workshop. Picture: Richard Marsham
Gainsborough House Director, Mark Bills pictured at the Gainsborough House Print Workshop. Picture: Richard Marsham

The new facility, which will include a three-storey exhibition and studio space, is set to officially open next spring, alongside the renovated existing house.

Mark Bills, director of Gainsborough’s House, told the Free Press: “This is great news for us. We have a year of running costs ahead of us before reopening.

“This means a year without any income from admissions, shop or café, so the grant helps us enormously get through this year. We are delighted and very grateful for the support.

“The project is progressing, but slower than we had anticipated due to a pandemic, which none of us could have predicted.

“Restoration of Gainsborough’s House is almost complete and the shell of the new build is completed, with the copper roof being installed at the moment.

“This will be followed by the cladding of the building with Bulmer bricks. The interior fit out has also begun with wiring and piping.

“We are still on course to fully open in spring 2022, followed by a programme of international, national and local temporary exhibitions.”

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge added: “The culture sector has taken a massive hit due to the necessary closures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, so these funds are absolutely essential.

“For Gainsborough’s House, they will provide a significant boost for their exciting renovation plans. I recently visited the team to see how the building work was going, and was encouraged by how much progress has been made.

“This is a landmark project for the whole Sudbury area and provides an exciting opportunity for the town’s future.”

Elsewhere in Suffolk, Leavenheath-based theatre company Spillers Pantomimes was another beneficiary of the new round of CRF funding, gaining a £56,990 grant.

Meanwhile over the border in Essex, the Colne Valley Railway received £34,000 to aid the organisation in its recovery.

Based in Castle Hedingham, the one-mile heritage railway will utilise the cash for essential maintenance work, to enable the attraction to re-open at the end of May.

Paul Lemon, chairman of Colne Valley Railway Preservation Ltd, which manages the site, said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive this grant at this difficult time.

“It ensures that the Colne Valley Railway will remain open on Sundays during the school summer holidays.

“We look forward to resuming a full programme of events in 2021.”

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