Cultural projects benefit from £750,000 funding

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Two iconic cultural sites in Norfolk and Suffolk are to share £750,000 in funding from New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for projects forecast to attract more than 100,000 new visitors per year to the East.

New Anglia LEP’s board has approved funding of £500,000 to Norwich Castle and £250,000 to Gainsborough’s House from its Growing Places Fund.

Norwich Castle:Gateway to Medieval England is a £13m project to redevelop the Castle’s Keep, transforming it back to its original 12th century layout and making it accessible throughout. The project will create a new medieval gallery in partnership with the British Museum and an Early Years gallery, as well as a new reception area, shop and café. The project is expected to deliver:

  • 15 direct new jobs and 136 indirect new jobs
  • 4 traineeships and 6 apprenticeships
  • 100,000 new visitors per year


The National Centre for Thomas Gainsborough in Sudbury is a £9m project to create a 526sqm extension to Gainsborough’s House, doubling the current size of the museum. The project will create three new display galleries, a new café and art studio with panoramic views of the countryside. The work includes a comprehensive refurbishment of the original historic buildings and improved visitor facilities. The project is expected to deliver:

  • 90 direct new jobs and 31 indirect new jobs
  • 5 apprenticeships
  • 75,000 additional paying visitors within three years of opening.


New Anglia LEP’s Growing Places Fund provides loan-funding to help kick-start and support development projects across Suffolk and Norfolk.

Doug Field, Chairman of New Anglia LEP, said “The East is rich in heritage and culture, and Norwich Castle and Gainsborough’s House are among our most valuable assets.

“Our Offer to the World is a key theme of the Economic Strategy for Norfolk and Suffolk, recognising the vital part the cultural sector plays in driving our visitor economy. Both these projects will make a tangible contribution to that offer, while making the East an even more inspiring place to live, work, visit and invest.”

The Chairman of Norfolk Joint Museums Committee, Councillor John Ward, said: “This funding from the LEP is a huge vote of confidence in the Gateway to Medieval England project and confirmation of its importance to the region’s cultural economy. This support will help secure the future of this important historic monument, ensuring that it is interpreted in an engaging and exciting way, which meets visitor expectations and makes the building fully accessible, physically and intellectually, for the first time in its 900-year history.

“We’re very grateful to the LEP for this investment which, along with major support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and local funders and sponsors, will enable us to realise a long-cherished vision for the Keep, that will bring significant economic benefits to the region.”

Mark Bills, Director of Gainsborough’s House, said: “The support of New Anglia LEP has meant that Gainsborough’s House, one of the region’s great cultural assets, can be developed into a national centre, bringing much needed economic regeneration and cultural tourism to the area. We are delighted and grateful for the funding.”

The Leader of Babergh District Council, Councillor John Ward said: “This funding from the New Anglia LEP is fantastic news for Gainsborough’s House as it will help them to create new jobs and apprenticeships and attract more visitors.

“Earlier this year, Babergh District Council decided to gift Gainsborough’s Chambers to the Gainsborough’s House Society because we know that their Reviving an Artist’s Birthplace project will have a huge economic and cultural impact on Sudbury both in terms of jobs and tourism.”

You can find out more about the Growing Places Fund here.

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