Funding & Grants to Build the Cultural Ecology

Key to sustaining and growing the Borough’s cultural sector is investment. Wandsworth’s cultural landscape benefits from being able to access several area specific funding pots to support creative initiatives. Of these, the main ones are:

Wandsworth Grant Fund provides Council funding of between £500 to £10,000 for cultural, community, and voluntary sector organisations in the Borough to undertake activities for up to 12 months. Applicants can apply specifically for the Arts and Culture theme, but cultural organisations are also invited to create projects that deliver against the Council’s other themes: Environment and attractive neighbourhoods; Children and young people; Citizenship and civic engagement; Achieving aspirations and potential; and Health and wellbeing.

Wandsworth Council’s Cultural Capacity Grant
Each year a single grant of £10,000 is available to support small cultural organisations or artist collectives who are based and work in the Borough to develop their capacity, test out new ideas or develop new business models to help support their sustainability going forward.

Wandsworth Community Fund provides Council funding of between £250 to £5,000 support small Wandsworth-based registered charities, voluntary or community-based groups. The aim is to support new local initiatives that can show they will achieve a positive outcome for the Borough’s residents.

Battersea Power Station Foundation funds projects that support local communities, create new opportunities and make Wandsworth’s neighbourhoods even better places to live. The Foundation funds work in a range of areas – from arts, culture and the environment, to wellbeing, welfare and training for work – looking for projects that energise local neighbourhoods by empowering and renewing communities, improving wellbeing and increasing economic opportunities. There are two funding pots: The Spring Fund for up to £5,000, which aims to support smaller scale projects that can quickly make a big difference to local communities; and The Evolve Fund, which seeks to partner with organisations to invest in programmes that will help local communities prosper over the longer-term.

Wimbledon Foundation looks to support charities that seek to tackle social problems in Wandsworth. Organisations can apply for grants of up to £5,000 as part of the Community Fund. In addition, the Wimbledon Foundation offer an annual award of up to £50,000 to support a local arts and cultural project entitled the Arts and Community Engagement (ACE) Fund. The ACE Fund was launched in 2018 and looks to support an inspiring and creative project that will engage the local community of Merton and Wandsworth, particularly groups who might not ordinarily access the arts

Case study: Introducing Cultural Anchor Tenants

Matt’s Gallery is one of the UK’s leading contemporary art galleries. It will also be one of the first cultural anchor tenants to move into Nine Elms.

The organisation was founded by Robin Klassnik in his studio in 1979 and has supported the making of new and innovative work since then. For 25 years the gallery was based in Mile End, Tower Hamlets, and is currently temporarily based in the studio of Ron Henocq in Bermondsey, Southwark.

Matt’s Gallery exists to give artists the time, space and support they need to take risks, test their limits and surprise even their own intentions. They provide the best conditions for experiencing art and challenging audiences. They work with artists at key moments in their development and at all stages of their careers. Matt’s Gallery is a registered charity and an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.

In 2015 Matt’s Gallery won a competitive tender for a permanent new space in Nine Elms, which will open in 2021. The building is provided core and shell by the developer Bellway through Wandsworth Council as part of their Section 106 commitments. As well as bringing their free programme of high-quality, international contemporary art to the residents of Nine Elms and the wider Borough, the gallery will draw audiences from further afield into Wandsworth. Matt’s Gallery provides the best conditions for enjoying contemporary art in an inclusive, welcoming and accessible environment.

The fit out has been designed by architects Manalo & White to create a complex that will incorporate two double-height gallery spaces, affordable artists’ studios, offices, a book and editions shop, and a publicly accessible home for the Matt’s Gallery library and archive. Alongside documentary evidence of the exhibitions being made, the library and archive will hold films, books, invitations, letters and ephemera relating to artist-led practice from the 1960s to today. The archive gives significant insights into the working methodology of the gallery and the artists it has worked with over the last 40 years.

The space, secured on low rent over a 25-year lease, provides Matt’s Gallery with much-needed stability into the future. The fit out of the shell spaces will be completed in two phases and will cost £1.2m.

Case study: Happy Streets

Happy Streets was an outdoor arts festival, focused on community cohesion and wellbeing, that took place for the first time in July 2019. The first festival celebrated the completion of Yinka Ilori’s colourful redesign of a railway underpass on Thessaly Road, a key north-south route in Nine Elms that links the Savona, Patmore and Carey Gardens estates.

The transformation of what had been an unwelcoming pedestrian underpass was the starting point: following a design competition held in partnership with the London Festival of Architecture, Wandsworth Council commissioned Yinka Ilori’s ‘Happy Street’ design in November 2018 to brighten up the dark underpass, used daily by residents, schoolchildren and commuters.

From the outset, community engagement was at the heart of this project. Residents were invited to view a shortlist of six designs at the ROSE Community Clubroom and offer their comments and preference on whose design they wanted to see brought to life in person or online. Pupils from St. George’s School were then invited to meet with Yinka Ilori as he finalised his winning design.

In early 2019, the Council commissioned a new solo exhibition from Ilori, ‘Types of Happiness’, to be presented in a pop-up gallery space run in partnership with the Royal College of Art, thereby introducing more of the local community to his work and giving people a chance to get familiar with his proposed underpass design. A series of community engagement workshops were held, offering everything from hands-on architectural activities to colouring-in mural activities.

Work on the underpass was completed in July 2019, when a festival was held in the outdoor and public spaces either side of the bridge, spilling out into the surrounding streets, to celebrate its transformation. The Happy Streets festival took over four venues (the playground spaces of St George’s School, a ball court, and two community centres), encouraging people to move through the newly-improved underpass throughout the day. The festival programme included 46 performances, participatory events and workshop opportunities, themed around happiness and wellbeing, including taster sessions of activities that were available locally for residents and could help improve neighbourliness and longer-term wellbeing, such as musical instrument learning, dancing or gardening. The content of the festival was developed hand-in-hand with local artists and community groups, bringing together local choreographers, beat-boxers, church groups, puppeteers, gardening groups, café owners and musicians, alongside professional artists and arts organisations from further afield.

Happy Streets was entirely free to attend, with all events wheelchair accessible and BSL-interpreted. Brochures were hand-delivered in advance to every residential address in the local neighbourhoods, including existing estates and new developments; attendance totalled 1872 during the afternoon.

Happy Streets provided a crucible for residents, community groups and organisations of different kinds to meet each other through their participation in the day; as two participants commented: “It was fantastic. What a great way for the whole community to get together. We met some really interesting people on the day and found out about other things happening in the area, i.e., with St George’s school and church,” and “It makes it feel as if it’s an area that is not forgotten but celebrated.”