Jane Weeks Looks back on her favourite Heritage Lottery Fund Projects in Sussex
13:47 29 April 2010
Jane Weeks looks back at some of her favourite projects in Sussex after leading the Heritage Lottery Funds South East England Committee
A passionate supporter of museums and galleries, Chichester resident Jane Weeks stepped down recently after six years chairing the South East England Committee of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The committee she chaired covers a region that extends from the south coast to Oxford. During the 15-plus years that the HLF has existed, the region shared 428 million, supporting more than 3,000 projects. These range from the restoration of historic buildings, improvements to museums and galleries, makeovers for town parks and purchasing works of art and treasured artefacts to helping to conserve the natural environment and promoting community involvement in conserving local social histories.
The projects are both large and small and include multi-million pound building refurbishments as well as helping youngsters trace the history of their local town, make a DVD film or produce a play.
During the past six years Chichester alone has benefited from almost 20 million in HLF grants supporting more than 90 projects. These include Pallant House Gallery, Chichester Harbour, and the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum. These feature among Janes selection of top six projects from her time in the chair.
Her committee had powers to decide on grants of up to 1million and advised on larger applications within their region.
She said that, as well as the obvious benefits of the large-scale grants, there were real intangible benefits in the small-scale donations.
Speaking of the In My Day project in Battle she said: It was brilliant seeing two generations coming together to share their information and being equally proud of the results.
Our smaller grants, such as our Your Heritage grants, have a fantastic ability to make people happy.
She said that the work of the HLF had made Britain a world leader in the heritage industry and had allowed us to develop exceptional skills in the display of our historic and artistic treasures.
As she finished her term of office a new report Investing in success: Heritage and the UK Tourism Economy, published jointly with Visit Britain shows that the size of the heritage-tourism sector in the UK is in excess of 12.4 billion a year and supports an estimated 195,000 full-time jobs.
One of the key projects showcased in the report comes from Sussex, namely the De La Warr Pavilion at Bexhill-on-Sea, which was given a grant of 2.3 million. After the restoration work visitor figures increased by 60 percent and more than 100 local jobs were created.
The report claims that heritage tourism makes a bigger contribution to the UK economy than the advertising, car manufacturing or film industries. Some 60 per cent of the 12.4 billion comes from UK residents on day trips or UK-based holidays. But foreign visitors also cite heritage as a main reason for visiting Britain, scoring higher than business trips, visiting friends and family or for shopping and sporting events.
Six of Jane Weeks' favourites in Sussex
Pallant House Gallery Chichester
A grant of 5.1 million supported the building of a new wing for the gallery, It opened in 2006 and greatly increased gallery space as well as providing accommodation for public function rooms including visitor reception, school parties, visiting artists room, shop, caf, enlarged library, prints and drawings study room, all at ground floor level. A new lift has meant that for the first time there is full disabled access to the Pallant House and all its collections as well as providing the space to exhibit items that were previously in storage. A year after the new wing opened the gallery won the 100,000 Gulbenkian Prize for museums.
In My Day
Young people living in and around Battle were given the chance to make a film and to discover what life was like in their grandparents time; at school, at work and in society as a whole, thanks to a grant of 25,000. In My Day was organised by the East Sussex-based film and music charity Sound Architect. A group of local young people from Claverham Community College aged between 13 and 15 researched the history of Battle schools and compared topics including education, employment, society and traditions between the period 1938 -1955 and the present.
The young people interviewed members of the older generation who had been at school in Battle. They published a documentary film, and a booklet which was distributed to local schools, libraries and youth organisations.
Towner Art Gallery
The relocation of Eastbournes art gallery to a new purpose-built building in the town centre was supported by an HLF grant of 1.9million. This has enabled far greater access to the prestigious visual art collection by creating larger and more flexible spaces together with improved storage facilities.
Since completion the Gallery has bagged a number of major awards, including the top spot in the 2009 British Design Awards and the Public Buildings Architect of the Year Award.
Rhythms of the Tide
Chichester Harbour Conservancy was granted 1.2million by HLF to protect and enhance habitats, landscape and the cultural heritage of the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The natural heritage has been preserved in a landscape of open water surrounded by dunes, mudflats and saltmarsh with some oak and hawthorn woodland. The landscape contains nationally significant estuarine and coastal habitats and areas of geological interest. Some habitats are internationally important, such as Atlantic salt meadows and cordgrass swards. It is also important for breeding terns and wintering waterfowl, particularly dark bellied Brent geese. Monitoring, scientific research and education opportunities were greatly enhanced by the project.
Weald and Downland Museum
A grant of 1 million made the construction of the Gridshell possible - the first building of its type in the UK. This arch-framed timber building provides a national facility for the study and practice of building conservation, housing a workshop, demonstration area and an environmentally-controlled underground museum store in an innovative green timber structure. The Gridshell is large enough for historic timber-framed buildings to be laid out for conservation and repair and it has won several prestigious architectural and design awards.
De La Warr Pavilion
With its panoramic view of the English Channel the Pavilion was the UKs first Modernist public building, constructed in 1935. The spectacular Grade I listed steel and concrete structure was restored with a 2.3 million HLF grant which provided a new, environmentally-controlled gallery space, upgraded existing areas - including its original 1,000-seat auditorium - and created modern education facilities. More than 70 percent of those now visiting come from outside the local area and are attracted to the town specifically to visit the Pavilion. It was named Best Seaside Landmark Building in the 2007 Coast awards and also picked up a regional Civic Trust Award in 2009.
From archaeology to the HLF
Jane Weeks is a museum consultant specialising in strategic planning, project management and income generation.She trained as an archaeologist, graduating from the University of Southampton before undertaking postgraduate research in nautical archaeology at the University of Bristol.
Following maritime research projects in Italy, Germany and Poland, she worked in the Museum of London, before joining a publishing house. In 1987, she was appointed Press Officer at the National Maritime Museum, later becoming Marketing Manager, and in 1990, Manager at the Royal Greenwich Observatory (formerly the Old Royal Observatory).
Since becoming a consultant in 1994, Ms Weeks has worked with major national museums, cultural institutions and small independently-run collections both in the UK and abroad. Clients include the British Council, the Museums Association, the National Maritime Museum, University College London, the National Museum of Bahrain, The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and the National History Museum in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Jane is a former Board Member of ICOM UK and the Association of Independent Museums Council. She was a Trustee of Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, prior to taking the chair of HLFs South East England Committee.