BIG Brighton International Gallery- a home for arts & culture

“It’s big yeah” Jon Link, Modern Toss


Brighton, UK - Local architects ALTER & COMPANY have designed a blue chip, mixed economy landmark building to showcase the  vibrant  arts  community  in  which  we  live.  Brighton & Hove has always been considered a hotbed of creative thinkers and do-ers. There’s a kind of quirkiness and collaborative element to Brighton & Hove, as well as a ‘look after each other’ attitude that’s a big part of the city’s culture.

Brighton & Hove hosts the largest annual arts festival in England when the entire city becomes a buzz of creativity. A City of Sanctuary, many people choose to live here because it's  associated with the kind of creativity that comes from freedom, collaboration (and hedonism!). Yet the city is small enough for people to make an impact in the creative community, one that’s open to new ideas and ways of working. With a growing creative industry sector representing 10.7% of the city’s working population, a £580 million digital GVA (gross value added), and 218 Start up births in the last 2 years alone, there is a 92% Tech sector growth potential expected for the future. * We continue to welcome ever more micro digital and creative businesses to the City.

There is a notable criticism however, by new start-ups (53% surveyed*) who felt there was a limited ‘supply of appropriate property on competitive terms.’ Alongside this, there is no quality purpose built home for the thriving artists and makers who live here.

The BIG Idea
Introducing: BIG a mixed-use landmark building which Brightonians can take ownership of, celebrate, and showcase the vibrant artistic landscape in which we live. BIG makes explicit the city’s philosophical stance of freedom and inclusivity we hold dear as a City - an element which is important now more than ever to give voice to. Big will be a resource to celebrate and showcase our values to the wider world.

The Details
Alter & Company have designed ‘BIG’ a new mixed-use non-profit contemporary art gallery, including space for research, education, digital experimentation, ethical food, and theatre space. BIG is beacon building which will be located at the heart of city’s cultural quarter. And will look to be self-funded.

Funding and Sustainability - a dynamic cross sector model Gone are the days when public monies can be relied upon for sustaining an organisation. It’s up to all of us to value and protect the Arts and Culture. Alter & Company recognises the new way of cross sector dialogue – taking the arts in and out of non ‘arty’ things. Alter & Company proposes a dynamic mixed public/private finding model. 60% of BIG will be sustained by the offer of commercial competitively priced workspaces; 20% will be supported by trusts and foundations, whilst only 20% from the public purse. This differs vastly from other “string of pearls” in the South East such as The Turner Contemporary in Margate, De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, and Towner Gallery in Eastbourne. These buildings receive a significantly higher percentage of public funding, and are struggling because of it.

Not only will the building be a multi-purpose arts space, it will also be home to a mixture of commercial businesses – but can be enriched by its innovative and social nature. A micro community where everyone is welcome, which compliments the government’s recent plans to tackle loneliness where it is reported nationally that ‘around 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month.’

The Future
Brighton struggles to offer adaptable and large spaces to make and display art. There is no place in which to stand and justify, criticise or patronise. We are missing a huge part of our cultural capital, a place to parade visual arts, a place to debate, communicate, connect and represent. Alongside this Brighton has other cultural assets which attract both visitors and residents alike such as theatres, libraries, museums, the seafront, BA i360 and The Pier.

Big is in alignment to our rich mix of historical and modern icons, all of which requires nurturing. Brighton and Hove demands we create an outstanding home in which to make, share create and to shout to the world our vision for the future.