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The Harris awarded £803k in government funding as revamp work continues

Posted on - 18th March, 2022 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Arts, History, Politics, Preston Council, Preston News
The Harris Museum and Art Gallery is just one of the venues holding events during half-term Pic: Tony Worrall
The Harris Museum and Art Gallery. Pic: Tony Worrall

The Harris has landed £803,249 from a government fund that aims to safeguard the nation’s cultural heritage and stimulate economic growth.

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The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports, delivered by Arts Council England, provided the funding, which marks a positive step forward for the Harris Your Place project.

Galleries, museums, libraries and cultural venues across the country, including The Harris, will benefit from almost £50 million in funding, which will improve access to the arts.

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Darren Henley, Chief Executive Officer of Arts Council England, said: “Our artists, arts organisations, museums and libraries are experts in making villages, towns and cities better places to live, work, visit or play.

“This investment means they’ll be able to help more people across England to lead happier, more creative lives.

“The Museum Estate and Development Fund helps fund museum and local authority infrastructure projects and urgent maintenance work beyond their day-to-day budgets.”

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The Harris is a Grade-I listed building and the jewel in Preston’s crown.

The MEND funding complements the existing Harris Your Place capital project to re-imagine and preserve the Harris for future generations. 

In 2021, The Harris temporarily closed to the public to begin its major capital project – Harris Your Place.

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The restoration will make the Harris more welcoming and inclusive, with structural works and layout improvements to the Grade I-listed building, creating a cultural attraction and community hub fit for the 21st century.

With the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Harris was able to commence work on an initial £10m scheme, increasing to £12.4m with the addition of Towns Fund investment and grants from Garfield Weston Foundation and Wolfson Foundation.

This latest £803,249 award marks another significant milestone in the delivery of the project, bringing the total to £13.2m.

It enables the completion of repairs to the external stonework of the building alongside Harris Your Place in time for the planned re-opening in spring 2024.

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The support from the MEND fund allows the project to extend the scope of works and further invest in improving the Harris, carrying out additional work to the second floor and basement outside the £10m project.

Arts Minister Lord Parkinson said: “Culture is the bedrock of society. It brings people together, entertains and informs us, and helps us understand our past and shared future.

“Today, we are announcing a raft of new funding for treasured cultural institutions up and down the country.

“This will help them continue their great work, advance our work to level up access to arts and culture so they can be enjoyed by people no matter where they live, and protect these cherished institutions for future generations to enjoy.”

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The Cultural Investment Fund will see £48 million distributed to 63 organisations.

It is allocated through three streams: £24 million through the Cultural Development Fund; £18.8 million through the Museums Estate and Development Fund; and £5 million through the Libraries Improvement Fund.

The Harris is almost 130 years old and requires conservation work to reveal hidden architectural details and tackle the leaking roof and damp basement – it poses a threat to preserving the Harris’ collections.

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Visitors can currently enjoy continued library service and a range of Harris activities at Preston’s Guild Hall and pop-ups across the city.

Councillor Peter Kelly, the cabinet member for culture and leisure services at Preston City Council, said: “We are enormously grateful for this fantastic support, which represents more important funding for the Harris and enhances our delivery of Harris Your Place.

“This is fantastic news for the Harris and Preston. It means we can make much-needed repairs to the external stonework as part of the project and welcome our visitors back to a fully renovated building in 2024.

“The additional funding once again demonstrates the faith and commitment national funders have in the Harris Your Place project and the wider City Investment Plan vision.”

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