The arts centre will be redeveloped. Credit: Photography by Rob Ford

Bradford gets £4.9m for cultural centre makeover

Ahead of its year as UK City of Culture 2025, Bradford will receive £4.9m to redevelop the intercultural arts centre Kala Sangam and other cultural assets, the department for culture, media and sport said.

The funding, administered by Arts Council England, will support Kala Sangam in redeveloping its listed building, creating a new 200-seat theatre space, five new studios and a new home for Bradford Community Broadcasting. A new entrance, lift, Changing Places facility, lobby and central staircase will be created, to ensure the building is accessible to all in time for Bradford’s year as UK City of Culture in 2025.

As well as providing critical financial support for Kala Sangam’s capital redevelopment, the funding will also enable the organisation to establish a new network of arts hubs across Bradford District with partner venues The Rockwell Centre, South Square Centre and Keighley Creative. The four hubs will deliver a two-year arts and heritage programme at each site, co-creating activity with local communities who currently have little engagement with funded cultural work.

More than 70 cultural organisations across the country are to be given a financial boost by the government so they can improve people’s access to arts, support local economic growth through culture and safeguard vital local collections for future generations.

Beneficiaries of the Cultural Investment Fund, announced by Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, include museums, cultural venues and public libraries across England. They will share a pot of £58.8m which will see arts venues transformed, upgraded and created as part of the government’s plans to make sure everyone, no matter where they live, can access the UK’s world-renowned culture.

The fund, which totals more than £200m and was launched in 2019, is made up of three separate streams, the Cultural Development Fund, the Libraries Improvement Fund and the Museum Estate and Development Fund. It is designed to protect and improve people’s access to culture, regenerate communities, upgrade buildings and digital infrastructure and use investment to promote economic growth.

In this round of funding, £32.4 million has gone to eight Cultural Development Fund projects, £4.9m to 27 projects as part of the Libraries Improvement Fund and £21.4m has gone to 36 museums through the Museum Estate and Development Fund.

In his Spring Budget, chancellor Jeremy Hunt extended for a further two years tax reliefs for theatres, orchestras, and museum and gallery exhibitions.

Cannon Hall in Barnsley will receive almost £900,000 to protect its stunning grade two star-listed Georgian country house and collection of fine and decorative art.

Other winners include £497,474 to Harewood House, near Leeds; £166,250 to Shandy Hall in Coxwold, Yorkshire; and £50,000 to Barnsley Libraries.

Jas Athwal DL, Kala Sangam’s chair of the board, said: “The project will be transformational for Bradford. Our capital plans will see our home redeveloped into the state-of-the-art arts centre that a city of Bradford’s size deserves. It will, finally, enable access to our publicly funded building for all.”

Alex Croft, Kala Sangam’s creative director said: “This funding represents a massive step forward towards making our ambitious redevelopment plans a reality. I’m hugely grateful to both DCMS and Arts Council England for their support, and I’d like to thank Bradford Council for the belief, guidance and funding they’ve provided us over the last few years as we’ve developed our capital plans.”

Cllr Sarah Ferriby, healthy people and places portfolio at Bradford Council,  said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that Kala Sangam has been awarded this funding from DCMS. Not only will it enable the organisation to grow, it also provides opportunities to maximise its impact on the local, regional and national arts ecology. It’s so important for us as a district to invest in our assets, especially as we approach Bradford 2025 and embed our arts and cultural strategy, Culture is our Plan. This investment will play a huge role in the district’s arts and cultural offer and our legacy.”

Dan Bates, executive director, and Shanaz Gulzar, creative director, Bradford 2025 said: “When you invest like this in an organisation with the deep roots that Kala Sangam has laid in Bradford, you’re doing so much more than improving its buildings. This is a statement of belief in the value of art within our communities here. And it’s a big step in advancing the cultural capital of the district as we look to 2025 and way, way beyond. We’re so happy for Kala Sangam and we’re really looking forward to working together to create an unforgettable year as UK City of Culture.”

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