See also Colchester
Firstsite is a ground breaking arts complex for the East of England, located in Colchester, Essex.
Firstsite contains a foyer exhibition space, presentation spaces housing a rotating series of exhibitions, an artist space where artists and audience can interact in the creative process, dedicated education spaces, a fully equipped auditorium for film screenings, discussion and debate, a resource centre showcasing the University of Essex Collection of Latin American Art (UECLAA), a shop selling work by local artists and craftspeople, and a drop-in café/evening event restaurant.
Firstsite also offers business conferencing facilities and parkland. For schools and the regional community, an outreach programme helps build creativity.
The £16.5 million structure, topped with sheets of real gold, was designed by New York based architecture practice, Rafael Vinoly.
Firstsite, the original gallery, was established in 1994 and enjoyed success located in The Minories, an 18th century English townhouse with wooden beams and crooked ceilings. It was an interesting space but not ideal for contemporary art. The site had a beautiful walled garden and an unusual gothic folly. Firstsite, the current building was completed in 2011 and provides a secure climate-controlled space for art works.
By featuring artists such as Anthony Gormley, Louise Bourgeois, and Bridget Riley the Firstsite organisation has attracted a national profile and seen audiences grow from 12,000 in its first year to over 80,000 in 2005 and beyond.
Firstsite's new building was funded by a partnership of Arts Council England, East, the East of England Development Agency, Essex County Council and Colchester Borough Council. Grants of £5 million from both the Arts Council and EEDA, £2.5 million from Essex County Council and £2.5 million with Essex University represent a £15 million inward investment for Colchester.
A further £1.5 million was granted towards construction costs by Colchester Borough Council. The scheme acted as the catalyst for a £250 million redevelopment of the ancient Roman city's run-down east end. The building also attracts more than half a million pounds of Arts Council and other funders' investment into the town on a regular, revenue basis.
Firstsite Contemporary Art Gallery
Lewis Gardens, High St, Colchester
Tel. 01206 713 700
Open: daily, 10am-5pm
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