Weston Foundation grant for Poole’s Lighthouse

POOLE’s Lighthouse centre for the arts is one of more than 100 UK arts organisations to benefit from the Weston Culture Fund, established in response to the impacts of Covid-19 by the Garfield Weston Foundation, one of the country’s most respected charitable institutions with a long history of supporting arts and culture in the community.

The £290,000 grant will support the artistic programme and enable the arts centre to build for the future by mitigating the risk of programming shows and establishing a new Creation Hub, to support performing artists ito develop new work in its Sherling Studio.

Chief executive Elspeth McBain says the grant will enable them to plan for life after the pandemic: “This funding will enable us to restart our work, refresh activities, re-engage audiences and widen the cultural offering to our community, providing opportunities to build a strong programme while also supporting smaller artistic companies.”

The fund’s trustees were particularly struck by the arts centre’s support for artists and its focus on community engagement. As well as reducing financial risks, the award will subsidise tickets for audience development to extend access to the arts throughout the community.

“Despite the best efforts of the pandemic, Lighthouse has continued to deliver arts to our audiences online and, when we have been able to open, in person,” says Elspeth. “Our determination and a can-do attitude have driven some amazing experiences, from bedtime stories for children to the first Lighthouse OUTSIDE season of performances outdoors. This grant looks to the future and ensures we can continue to deliver high quality cultural experiences to the people of Poole, Dorset and the wider region.

“While fundraising remains essential for a recovery, at a particularly challenging moment during the cold, dark days of the third lockdown, this is just the best news and has given us a real boost to keep being positive, creative and here for our artists and audiences.”

Philippa Charles, director of Garfield Weston Foundation, adds: “Our cultural sector is at the heart of our local communities providing not only entertainment but education and inspiration for many. Our Trustees were impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit shown across the arts in response to Covid-19 and it was a privilege to hear what organisations had been doing to not only survive but also to reinvent the way they reach audiences. What really stood out was the level of collaboration and support they had for each other and the determination to keep going, despite the increasingly difficult situation.

“We all want and need our cultural sector to thrive and, if anything, our time away from the arts has shown just how important they are to us – bringing much needed pleasure and enrichment to our lives. Arts organisations are desperate to re-open and get back to what they do best, and we hope that this new funding will help many of them do exactly that.”

Established in 1958, the Garfield Weston Foundation is a family-founded, grant-making charity which supports a broad range of charities and activities, from small community organisations to large national institutions across the UK, and gave more than £88 million last year. It has donated well over £1 billion to charities since it was established. The Foundation’s funding comes from an endowment of shares in the family business which includes Twinings, Primark, Kingsmill (all part of Associated British Foods Plc) and Fortnum & Mason, among others