Portsmouth’s contemporary art gallery Aspex, which is supported by the council, has secured the support of Arts Council England for a series of new commissions and projects planned to celebrate its 40th anniversary. The programme will enable the gallery to continue to deliver art and participatory activities online and locally through these ongoing uncertain times, along with support for the wider cultural ecology with £53,000 of the total £84,422 grant to provide artists and creative freelancers with essential paid opportunities.
Aspex (life begins) at 40 will include four new digital art commissions, to be premiered on the gallery’s new website this Spring/Summer. They will provide an insight into the gallery’s archive and work over the last four decades, together with digital resources for families. The funding also enables Aspex to recommence its participatory work out in the local community with children and young people in Portsea, including a regular school holiday project, and a new Young Curators programme set to inspire the artists and cultural producers of the future.
The grant from Arts Council England will also provide the financial support needed to Bring Back the Southsea Dinosaur! The long-awaited tribute to Luna Park by Heather and Ivan Morison will be realised this summer – following the successful crowdfunding campaign in 2020 supported by the council, when 147 supporters raised over £10,000 to kickstart the fundraising for a bronze and augmented reality version of the much loved dinosaur.
Joanne Bushnell, Director of Aspex said: “It’s been a really difficult start to the year for everyone, the natural optimism and energy of a new year has been tested by the ongoing pandemic, terrible loss of life, continued lockdown and recent news events. The arts and cultural sector continues to struggle for survival, particularly artists and freelancers. For this reason, we are extremely grateful that Arts Council England have supported our plans for 2021. We hope to bring art, light and joy back to our audience and to Portsmouth, to lift the spirits and share the life enhancing power of creativity.”