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Library of Birmingham receives £162k grant from the Arts Council to develop Grain - a Regional Photography Hub

The Library of Birmingham has been awarded a major £162,000 grant by Arts Council England to undertake a 2 year project to create a new strategic hub and network for photography and photographers in collaboration with national and international partners. The project will be called Grain. This is the largest Grants for the Arts Award given to photography in the region.

Key elements of the project will include researching, developing and delivering new, ambitious high quality opportunities to strengthen photography in the region, providing sustainability and promoting the sector nationally and internationally.

The award follows previous grants for £62,000 to support Reference Works: The Library of Birmingham Photography Project commission established in the city - and a more recent £6,284 grant from the Art's Councils Designation Development Fund to undertake conservation work on a nine volume publication titled the People of India, published between 1865 and 1870, which contains over 480 original photographic prints.

Over the last 20 years the Library's Photography Collection Team have become increasingly proactive in their academic, corporate and market facing activities. They have responded to the rapidly changing face of public cultural funding by building relationships with the corporate sector to encourage collaboration, sponsorship and philanthropy initiatives that have enabled them to continue to collect historical work, to support the work of mid to late career photographers, to commission, purchase and collect contemporary work and to support the professional development of emerging photographers.

Pete James, Head of Photographs at the Library says:

"This amazing award comes at unique moment in the city's and region's cultural history. We stand perfectly positioned with the new Library of Birmingham to take a step-change in our work to support and develop photography in the region and to promote the Library as a photography centre of regional, national and international importance. Building on our work to date, we can now enter a two year period of research and development to deliver a of programme of exhibitions, workshops, seminars, portfolio reviews, commissions and networking events with new and existing partners that will provide the very best opportunities to create new work, new audiences, new partnerships and new ways of working that will result in strategic and sustainable future photography and photographers in the West Midlands."

Cllr Ian Ward, Deputy Leader, Birmingham City Council, comments,

"Photography will be a really important part the new Library of Birmingham and a great way to engage the 3.5 million visitors we expect the library to have every year. We have some really innovative and ambitious programmes for the new building, so it is great news that we will be able to promote the Library of Birmingham as a centre of photographic excellence."

Ros Robins, Regional Director, Arts Council England says,

"The Library of Birmingham is one of the city's most exciting developments; it will be a huge part of Birmingham's cultural landscape and a regional photography Hub will help to make it a central point for photographers both nationally and internationally. The Libraries photography collection team have worked hard to develop an exciting collection and Arts Council England are pleased to support their next project so that their good work can continue."

Reference Works website

Press Release - 7 December 2012