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Funding the Arts

03 January 2013

In 2008 The Foundation was commissioned by anonymous donors to award a major £3m capital funding grant on their behalf, as a prize to an arts organisation in Edinburgh. The prize was being offered to the organisation best placed to further the advancement of the arts in Scotland.

Key to the award was finding an inspirational project of exceptional architectural excellence or ingenuity, which had the potential to add value to Edinburgh’s arts community and enhance its cultural and artistic status.

In 2011, the Foundation formally awarded the £3m prize to Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop (ESW). ESW’s Creative Laboratories was selected from 13 entries by an expert Judging Panel in 2010. Since then ESW has completed the construction of their new Sculpture Centre at Newhaven and has now begun work on the Creative Laboratories that will sit alongside.

The Creative Laboratories will be a unique new building providing a mix of indoor and open-air workspace around a central courtyard. Together with the Sculpture Centre it will create a vibrant hub in the north of Edinburgh. The addition of viewing areas and a café will open up the space to visitors and it is due to open in early 2014.

The Foundation’s role has been to fully understand and interpret the donors’ interests, define and implement the award process and manage the capital programme. This includes business planning appraisal, contractual and legal obligations, liaising with the City’s authorities and monitoring the technical aspects during design, development, tendering and construction.

Having set the selection criteria, the Foundation developed and implemented a promotional campaign to generate interest and ensured that the project attracted the right calibre of applicants and established a high level judging panel. During the two stage 18 month process, the Foundation also supported applicants as designs were developed.

Crucial to the success was ensuring that the project met the donors’ expectations and achieved the right strategic and cultural impact for everyone concerned.




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