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Ironbridge Gorge Museums join National Fundraising Project with the Art Fund (17th June 2014)

The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust is delighted to announce today (Tuesday 17th July 2014) that it's a launch partner in a brand-new national fundraising initiative.

The Museum is teaming up with the Art Fund and four other museums from across the country to launch Art Happens - a crowd-funding platform housed within the Art Fund website that will help UK museums raise money for new, small-scale creative projects.

Art Happens is an exciting new approach to fundraising and, unlike other crowd-funding platforms, every penny raised will go directly to the projects, with no fees charged to anyone.

The project at Ironbridge seeks to raise money to transform the Museum of The Gorge through a complete redesign of the gallery and an upgrade of the existing auditorium, to create a space that can be used for museum and community events.

The iconic building that houses the museum lies at the heart of the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site. It was built in 1832 in a gothic style as the Severn Warehouse for the Coalbrookdale Company. Goods would be brought down from the furnaces and forges in Coalbrookdale and shipped down the river Severn to the markets of Gloucester, Bristol and the Empire beyond.

Once completed, the Museum of The Gorge will be the starting point for visitors wanting to explore the unique museums and landscapes of Ironbridge. Upgraded audio-visual equipment will allow the museum to develop a varied programme of screenings, from historic Pathé footage to community film events.

Anna Brennand, Chief Executive of The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust commented: “As an independent charity we are delighted to be working with the Art Fund on this innovative and exciting project and we are very grateful to them for all of their support and advice. The Museum of The Gorge is a very important location, as it helps tell the story of the World Heritage Site and how the industrial innovations made here changed the world forever. The funding will not only help transform the museum but also create a space that our local community can use for a variety of events”.

To find out more and to make a donation to the Ironbridge project visit the Art Happens website at www.artfund.org/arthappens

Art Happens has been launched as a response to the Art Fund’s wish to help museums raise more money and engage their visitors in new ways. The new approach of Art Happens means that all donors are thanked with project-specific rewards – an artist’s limited edition piece of glass, for example, or a champagne reception. Everyone can get involved with as little as a £5 donation and feel personal involvement with updates from the project team.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said: “Building on the Art Fund’s historical success and recent experiments in digital crowd-funding, we are keen to use the tide of public engagement with museums to bring supporters ever closer to new, live museum projects. Through Art Happens anyone can be a patron as well as beneficiary of the arts. It’s the start of a new chapter for UK museums in terms of both public fundraising and public participation.”

The other museums to taking part in Art Happens are: Compton Verney, Warwickshire; Jerwood Gallery, Hastings; St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff and The Bowes Museum, Durham. Throughout the year, several new projects will be added to the platform.

The development and launch costs of Art Happens have been generously supported by a small number of individuals and charitable trusts, and a grant from Arts Council England through its Renaissance Strategic Support Fund.