A COLCHESTER gallery will receive almost £700,000 to support the public launch of its tenth anniversary programme.

Funding of £2.8 million has been awarded through the Arts Council to support 31 organisations in Essex as part of yesterday’s announcement of further funding through the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

The fund is aimed at helping theatres, galleries, performance groups and arts organisations to recover from the Covid pandemic.

Colchester’s Firstsite, which is the largest public gallery in Essex, will benefit from a £692,625 funding boost.

The gallery works locally and internationally to deliver a programme of artistic activity.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the building, so the money will support the public launch of the anniversary programme featuring artworks from across the nation through The Great Big Art Exhibition, Michael Landy’s headline exhibition The Essex Archive, plus an outdoor sculpture park and staff development.

Sally Shaw, Firstsite director, said: “Cultural Recovery Funding really is an immense relief for Firstsite for the year ahead - whatever it may bring.

“It is a financial life raft which will help us across very tricky waters.

“This year is Firstsite’s tenth anniversary in our spectacular building and we aim to continue our work to bring creativity, fun and relief to our immediate local audiences as those we are now reaching much further afield.”

“I am delighted to share that we will be presenting ‘Welcome to Essex’ by Michael Landy CBE as the first in a series of wonderful Birthday highlights - opening on June 25th. We are also presenting New Contemporaries later in the year which will be an amazing opportunity to support emerging artists from across the country. Thank you to Arts Council England and Colchester Borough Council for their foresight in supporting us to expertly through this very difficult time for everyone.”

Rosie Millard, chairwoman of Firstsite added: “Over the last year we are pleased to have been agile and inventive; we switched many of our activities online and continued to bring people together through culture.”

“This included the invention and delivery of our Artists’ Activity Packs, which we have sent in their tens of thousands across the county, country and indeed the world.”

Hazel Edwards, South East area director at Arts Council England said: “We’re supporting a huge range of organisations that help make the arts and cultural scene so vibrant across our region.”

The Government’s Culture Recovery Fund now stands at £1.57 billion.