Quarter-of-a-million pounds donated to Aberdeen Art Gallery’s redevelopment project

The fundraising campaign for Aberdeen Art Gallery's major redevelopment has received a £250,000 donation from the Garfield Weston Foundation.

The announcement was made by the Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums Development Trust Board at its Founder Patrons' launch event, which was held in Aberdeen Maritime Museum, yesterday (Tue 10 Nov).

The donation will go towards the £30m 'Inspiring Art and Music' project, which will see the redevelopment of Aberdeen Art Gallery, Cowdray Hall and Remembrance Hall into a 21st century centre for art and music.

The Garfield Weston Foundation is a family-founded, grant-making trust which has been supporting charities across the UK for over 50 years. It supports a broad range of organisations and activities that share a commitment to making a positive impact to the lives of the communities in which they work, and that are driven by a desire to achieve excellence.

A Heritage Lottery Fund grant of almost £10million has already been awarded for the ambitious redevelopment programme. Aberdeen City Council has committed £10million from its Non-Housing Capital Fund towards the overall cost of the project with a public and philanthropic fundraising campaign for the remaining £10million.

The Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums Development Trust, is an independent charity, which was established in January 2015, with the aim of building engagement and philanthropic support for Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums to develop and expand its activities in the years to come. Aberdeen Art Gallery's redevelopment project is the first initiative to receive the Trust's support.

The eight art-lovers from across the North-east of Scotland who make up the Board of Trustees of the Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums Development Trust are Steve Regulski (chair), Joe Mackie, Karen Molloy, Maire Lanaghan, Bobby Anderson (treasurer), Gill Summers, Ken Massie and Lennox Dunbar.

Steve Regulski, Chair of the Board of Trustees said: "We are very grateful to the Garfield Weston Foundation for this donation which recognises the importance of the project to the people of Aberdeen, and we are sure that it will inspire more people and organisations to back what is probably the most significant improvement to Aberdeen's cultural landscape since Aberdeen Art Gallery first opened in 1885. The Founder Patrons' event was a great success with several guests pledging their support on the night itself."

Philippa Charles, Director of the Garfield Weston Foundation said: "The donation of £250,000 towards the Aberdeen Art Gallery redevelopment project is made in appreciation of the importance of this project to the city and with the warmest wishes of the Weston Family."

The Lord Provost of Aberdeen George Adam said: "This wonderful donation from the prestigious Garfield Weston Foundation is fabulous news. The redevelopment of Aberdeen Art Gallery is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to achieve something really special for Aberdeen and by rejuvenating and improving these much loved buildings, we will create a world-class cultural centre which will celebrate art and music for all."

'Inspiring Art and Music' will see the transformation of Aberdeen Art Gallery, Cowdray Hall and Remembrance Hall through significant investment in the fabric of the buildings, new exhibition and display galleries and much improved facilities for visitors.

Interior plans include the creation of 21 gallery spaces in place of the existing 11, a 500 square metre space in which to showcase international-quality exhibitions, and a community gallery in a new wing at the rear of the building. Exterior plans involve removing the pitched roofs and skylights behind the parapets of the main building and adding a new storey of accommodation for visiting exhibition galleries and a learning suite.

The project involves new educational facilities to create opportunities for all to learn more about the arts. The planned upgrading of the Cowdray Hall will include the creation of additional seating which will allow more people to enjoy performances, while the facilities for performers will also be enhanced.

The Remembrance Hall will also be carefully renovated to reflect both its role as a space for quiet contemplation and as a civic space to honour the sacrifices made on behalf of the community.

During the building work at Aberdeen Art Gallery and Cowdray Hall there will be a continuing programme of art and music at Aberdeen Maritime Museum and The Tolbooth Museum. Collections will also be seen at other venues in the city and Aberdeenshire and will be on loan to other organisations in the UK and abroad.

To learn more about the project which is due to be completed in winter 2017, visit: www.inspiringartandmusic.tumblr.com