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Expansion plan for Turner Contemporary in Margate

By Paul Francis

The hugely successful Turner Contemporary could be set for a £7 million extension under plans being considered by the Margate gallery.

Since opening in 2011, it has become a major visitor attraction to the town and been credited with triggering a wider cultural regeneration of east Kent.

An estimated £58m has been brought into the area on the back of the David Chipperfield designed building.

The Turner Contemporary in Margate
The Turner Contemporary in Margate

Now it is poised for a redevelopment, although no specific proposals have been put forward.

Options include a stand-alone extension on the existing site or enlarging the gallery. At the same time, the centre will be refurbished.

According to a report by Kent County Council (KCC), the arts centre has outgrown its existing buildings and an expansion would enable it to build on its success.

It states: “Turner Contemporary has outgrown the space in its current building and over the last (six) years of operations, staff have been able to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the current facility.”

The scheme for what has been dubbed “Turner Contemporary Phase 2” is aimed at bringing the building “up to a standard where it will be able to maintain its position as a leading national gallery and catalyst for regeneration.”

At the same time, the gallery faces cuts in funding from both KCC and the Arts Centre for England (ACE) with both looking to reduce their subsidies.

According to an academic study conducted by the Canterbury Christ Church University, about 960,000 people have visited the Turner Contemporary who would not have otherwise visited Margate.

Out of these, 80,000 had never previously been to an art gallery.

In 2015-16 alone, 72,000 visitors were from the Thanet region and 24,000 from Margate itself.

The Turner Centre has been asked for a comment.

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