Spring start for new Northampton arts facility

Published: Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Work is set to start on building the new home for NN Contemporary Art - an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation Contemporary Art Space - at 24 Guildhall Road this spring,

alongside development plans for the rest of the building to be transformed into a new digital arts and educational facility for the town.

The facility at the former county council building at 24 Guildhall Road will include a new contemporary art gallery in the basement, artist studios, a reading room / arts library and a small serving bar on the ground floor, and further studios, offices, a multimedia recording room, project space and education space on the first floor, along with an enhanced entrance off Guildhall Road and accessibility improvements throughout the building.

Local Architects PHP and International Artists Studio Morrison have formed a unique Architect - Artist team to lead on the design work of these spaces, which will comprise the new facilities of NN Contemporary Art.

Emer Grant, CEO and Artistic Director of NN Contemporary Art, said: “NN Contemporary Art is delighted to be embarking on such an exciting programme of change, which came about as a result of us becoming anchor tenants at 24 Guildhall Road.

“Through a unique and successful partnership with the Borough Council, we have been able to envision and drive the development of this previously unoccupied historic Northampton site into something that will be truly inspirational for the town.

“Through this, and other regeneration projects, the Cultural Quarter will flourish and Northampton’s cultural offer will be given further opportunity to shine. After a difficult year for culture, it's essential we build new spaces and unlock resources, so that communities can thrive and sustain creatively.”

The South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) board has also agreed the project’s scope, after it confirmed a £1.15 million contribution from the Government’s Get Building Fund last year.

Peter Horrocks CBE, SEMLEP Chair added: “We’re proud to support the relocation and refurbishment of NN Contemporary Art. Supporting our areas cultural and creative assets reinforces our ambition to make the South East Midlands an innovative place to live, work and visit.

“Not only will the investment complement our Vulcan Works Local Growth Fund project in Northampton Town Centre, the new facility will also offer creative workspace complex for our SME community, bringing people together following over a year of separation.”

Northampton Borough Council owns the building, some of which has already been transformed for use as part of the enhanced and expanded Northampton Museum and Art Gallery.

The Council has also committed £385,000 to the project, which alongside a £25,000 contribution from NN Contemporary Art, takes the project budget to £1.56 million.

A further £1.75 million will be put towards the project budget, following the Council’s successful bid to the Government’s Towns Fund with further funding proposals in development.

The project was highlighted as one of the public’s preferred priorities through a consultation carried out by Northampton Forward last autumn and contributes to the town centre masterplan.

Cllr Tim Hadland, Northampton Forward board member and Borough Council Cabinet Member for regeneration and enterprise, said: “This is the latest in a series of investments we’ve made in our Cultural Quarter which is playing a major part in the town’s prosperity.

“We’ve worked really closely with colleagues at NN Contemporary Art and SEMLEP to get to this stage and now have a project which provides even greater scope than we’d first envisaged.

“It will work in tandem with the reopening of our enormously improved museum, and the new Vulcan Works creative hub, to help breathe new life into the town centre.”

Following a tendering process, a contractor is due to be appointed at the end of April, with works expected to be complete by December 2021, ready for opening in April 2022.