Cultural organisations in Purbeck get £120,000 in grant funding

A pot of nearly £1.5 million is being distributed over three years across the Dorset Council area to arts and heritage organisations and accredited museums, with a share going to Purbeck in Dorset.

Money will be going to the arts hub The Mowlem in Swanage, the Swanage Museum and Sandy Hill Arts in Corfe Castle. Artsreach which provides innovative music and theatre performances to venues across Dorset including Purbeck is also getting a large grant.

Callum Patrick Hughes performs in The Showbar at The Mowlem

Up and coming talent Callum Patrick Hughes performs in The Showbar at The Mowlem

Cultural boost for Purbeck

There were 41 applications to the Dorset Council organisational revenue support fund for culture with 28 organisations successfully sharing £1,458,000 over the next three years.

Dorset Council says that it distributes the money across the Dorset Council area to ensure all residents and communities are able to benefit from the cultural boost.

All the successful organisations are based in and deliver their programmes within the council’s boundaries.


  • The Mowlem: £20,000 a year for three years. Total £60,000
  • Swanage Museum: £10,000 a year for three years. Total £30,000
  • Sandy Hill Arts: £10,000 a year for three years. Total £30,000

Dorset including Purbeck

  • Artsreach: £42,000 a year for three years. Total £126,000
Theatre posters from the 1930s and neon signs from the 1960s have been unearthed at The Mowlem recently

Chair of The Mowlem Trust, Paul Angel

Creating an arts hub for Swanage

The Mowlem in Swanage has come through some tough times with the historical problems of underfunding, lack of maintenance and a leaky roof, all made worse by the closure of the venue and loss of income during the Covid pandemic.

Now it’s reinventing itself as an arts hub by diversifying the types of performances that it puts on, including stand up comedians and also using the Showbar as a performance space.

The community room is going to get an overhaul and the foyer is being used for displaying art. However the £20,000 a year for three years will be aimed at supporting new community projects.

Chair of The Mowlem Trust, Paul Angel said:

“It’s fantastic to get this funding, as it’s not just for one year or one project but will provide an income stream over three years, which really allows us to invest over a much longer period.

“When we applied for the grant, the idea was to support Dorset based community arts projects at The Mowlem. Now the money has been confirmed, we’re working out the details as we speak, so look out for some more exciting announcements soon!”

Mel Norris, Swanage Museum chairman

Mel Norris outside Swanage Museum, however the funding will support its newly developed spin off history centre

Swanage’s history made more accessible

With so much fascinating history, Swanage Museum has expanded and in addition to the museum collection at The Square in Swanage, there’s the Swanage History Centre at the Victoria Avenue Industrial Estate where there’s a wealth of historical documents and research material.

Mel Norris from Swanage Museum said:

“The grant money – £10,000 a year for three years – will go towards paying for the history centre unit. This is really wonderful as it ensures we can afford to keep it going.

“It’s become a much valued community asset and this funding is really a reward for all the hard work from a team of dedicated volunteers. They’ve made it into a great facility to research Swanage’s history for both residents and visitors.”

Boilerhouse at Sandy Hill Arts

The Boilerhouse Gallery sits in the heart of the Sandy Hill Arts community in Corfe Castle

Creative community in Corfe

Sandy Hills Arts is a new charity, based around the Boiler House Gallery in Corfe Castle. There’s a number of artist studios and the aim of the new organisation is to make the site into more of a community offering events and workshops.

The £10,000 a year for three years will go towards ensuring that there’s the people to establish the charity as an arts organisation.

Artistic director of Sandy Hill Arts, Laurel Hart expressing gratitude for the support, said:

“This funding is a big step forward for Sandy Hill Arts, helping us to achieve our goals by securing a sustainable employment model that enables us to develop and deliver over the next three years.

“With Dorset Council’s financial backing, we’re excited to develop more innovative and inspiring creative experiences and opportunities for people of all ages and needs in Purbeck.

“We’ll be working in partnership with other organisations to reach under-engaged audiences and deepen our community engagement, with an aim to combat rural isolation so that our community not only benefits from creative enrichment but also enhanced wellbeing.

“We’re excited to kick off this year’s programme with a wellbeing workshop on Saturday 27th January and will be running more wellbeing activities across the year.

“We will be hosting more exciting events, exhibitions and workshops too – from macrame to printmaking – as well as free activities for families and young children like our nature trails and art activities as well as our Arty Bazaars. Do keep a lookout on our website for our winter/spring programme.

“We are grateful to the council for recognising Sandy Hill Art’s value in developing the arts in Purbeck and look forward to working with creatives and the wider community over the year ahead. Get in touch with us if you’re interested in getting involved!”

Sandy hill arts

Music events in their new marquee are growing in popularity at Sandy Hill Arts

“Make a lot of difference”

Laura Beddow, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for culture and communities, added:

“I’m pleased that we have been able to help so many organisations to bring arts and heritage to all corners of the council’s area.

“It will make a lot of difference for the people of Dorset!”

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