Press Release: BACKLIT granted £480,657 from Arts Council England


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BACKLIT is awarded a capital grant from the Arts Council England to build a long-term future for over 100 artists, marginalised groups, and local communities

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Image courtesy of BACKLIT. Image credit: Tom Morley

8 May 2024: BACKLIT, an artist-led public gallery based in Sneinton, will receive £480,657 from Arts Council England, thanks to its government-funded Capital Investment Programme, as announced today.

This funding will enable BACKLIT to continue providing high-quality creative and cultural experiences for people in Nottingham. Crucially, these funds will support the acquisition of Alfred House, and allow BACKLIT to improve disabled access, environmental sustainability, and digital innovation.

The Capital Investment Programme supports the Arts Council’s mission to ensure communities across the country have the infrastructure where creativity for everyone can thrive.

Matthew Chesney and Suzanne Golden, Co-Directors of BACKLIT, explain their vision for the funds: "BACKLIT’s Capital Investment Programme aims to support the purchase of our building, Alfred House. This in turn will allow us to make vital improvements to disabled access, enhance the environmental sustainability of the building, and improve our digital "people's archive".

" With LGBTQ+, neurodivergent, and female leadership, engaging and connecting with underrepresented groups within our communities is at the heart and head of what we do. This investment will allow for the building to belong not just to BACKLIT, but to the people.

"Having been tenants for 13 years, we have deeply invested in preserving the building's unique heritage, which holds significant historical and cultural value locally, nationally, and internationally, particularly in the realms of adult education, industry, and human rights. This rich and dynamic past is embedded in our future.

"Through purchasing Alfred House, BACKLIT will be able to move into a phase of long-term security and continue to build on its investment. We will be able to generate more income and build reserves to support our 47 SMEs, developing artists, and young people.

"We will also continue to respond to the needs of local communities by providing space to deliver meaningful projects in the neighbourhoods of St Ann’s and Sneinton, enriching people's lives, enhancing well-being, and increasing access to culture."

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Nadia Whittome, MP for Nottingham East: “With its diverse programme of exhibitions, events, and workshops, BACKLIT has been instrumental in widening access to the arts for Nottingham residents of all backgrounds. I’m thrilled that it has secured funding from Arts Council England’s Capital Investment Programme, which will help it to support even more emerging local artists and create welcoming spaces for our community to use.”

BACKLIT will use this award to purchase and re-develop their building, enhancing accessibility, sustainability, and community engagement. Awards from Arts Council England’s Capital Investment Programme go towards building works and the purchase of equipment and other assets to improve access, seize on technological opportunities, and reduce environmental impact.

Peter Knott, Midlands Area Director at Arts Council England, expressed his enthusiasm, stating: “We’re delighted to be able to offer funding to Nottingham’s BACKLIT gallery and studios to support the purchase and re-development of the building and recognize the important part they play in the cultural life of Nottingham.”

BACKLIT Gallery in Nottingham to benefit from a share of £24.2 million through Arts Council England’s Capital Investment Programme.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England said: “This infrastructure investment will help a whole range of different cultural organisations across England to flourish, increasing opportunities for people to enjoy creatively excellent cultural events close to where they live. It’s particularly important that we’re making this happen in communities where cultural investment has historically been low”.

Neelum Aftab, an artist and studio holder at BACKLIT, shares how BACKLIT furthered her art career and provided opportunities for working in the Nottingham community: "BACKLIT has been a stepping stone for my art career. It was the place where my art practice got recognition with wide options for further progression. Working as a studio artist I have run workshops for schoolchildren and community groups which has been a joyful experience for me."

Klara Szafrańska, a young artist and studio holder at BACKLIT, comes from Poland and has found a home in Nottingham through BACKLIT: "Since moving to Nottingham I felt continuously welcomed and supported by BACKLIT and its community. In 2022, I received the year-long Funded Studio Residency, to create generous spaces of making and thinking. I am so glad to be a part of the BACKLIT community."

Notes to Editors:

  • Interviews: Interviews with our Co-Directors and studio artists are available on request. For scheduling and inquiries, please contact our Marketing Coordinator, Rosa Davies, at [email protected] or by contacting Matthew Chesney at [email protected]
  • About BACKLIT: Established in 2008, BACKLIT is a globally recognized artist-led public gallery and studios dedicated to fostering arts and culture in Nottingham. Situated in a historic Victorian building dating back to 1872, our galleries span across three floors alongside our creative studios. Since our inception, we have remained committed to supporting local communities and the public through our annual free programme of exhibitions, events, and workshops.

For further information or press inquiries, please contact Rosa Davies using the details provided above.