East Sussex charity exceed Crowd Funding Project

The Charleston Trust set out three months ago to raise £25,000 to help restore some of the wonderful painted interiors inside the historic country meeting place for the writers, painters and intellectuals known as the Bloomsbury group. Thanks to generosity of all of their donors and supporters promoting the campaign, they have achieved 130% of their target to the total of £32,554, the largest percentage of target exceeded to date on the Art Happens platform.

Charleston, the home of Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell which played host to artists including Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, Lytton Strachey and John Maynard Keynes, is supported by the Charleston Trust. The Trust aim to restore and maintain the home of the Bloomsbury Group artists for the benefit of the public and this successful campaign will aid them in continuing this.

The Spare Bedroom at Charleston (Courtesy of Charleston Trust)
The Spare Bedroom at Charleston (Courtesy of Charleston Trust)

The crowdfunding campaign was set up in conjunction with the Art Fund and their #arthappens crowd funding platform, several levels of donation ranging from £5 to £995 were available. In return, supporters will receive rewards which range from postcard sets with Charleston’s iconic design motifs to mounted fragments of wallpaper from the Library to an exclusive patterned scarf and tote bag designed by Cressida Bell, Vanessa Bell’s granddaughter.

Carolyn Young, Director of Marketing, the Art Fund, said, “Charleston were fantastic to work with on this project and we are over the moon that they not only smashed their target so impressively, but also were able to raise extra funds towards further protecting the building’s extraordinary painted surfaces. The demand and interest in the project is testament to how crowdfunding can be an excellent fundraising tool for museums, and a huge thank you must go to Charleston’s supporters, and other art-loving members of the public who all so generously supported this campaign.”

The Library at Charleston (Courtesy of the Charleston Trust)
The Library at Charleston (Courtesy of the Charleston Trust)

The key restoration work can now be carried out by March 2016 and will include the paintwork around the window in the Spare Room, the wallpaper in the Library and the Vanessa Bell painted doors in the House Kitchen. The additional money will all go to ensuring that the restoration, decorations and collection are kept in the best possible condition by the installation of a new state-of-the-art climate control and monitoring system.

Fashion label Burberry credits Charleston as the inspiration behind its autumn/winter 2014 collection, the Bloomsbury Girls, and this summer, BBC2 broadcast a three-part series, Life in Squares. Filmed partly at Charleston, Life in Squares tells the story of Vanessa Bell and her sister, the writer Virginia Woolf, and has brought record numbers of visitors to Charleston this summer.

Nigel Newton, Chairman of The Charleston Trust, said, “This crowd funding campaign in conjunction with the Art Fund was a new initiative to find new supporters for Charleston. We are thrilled that the campaign exceeded its target. I am particularly grateful to Margaret Atwood for pointing us in the direction of crowdfunding in a conversation we had following her event at the Small Wonder Short Story Festival at Charleston a year ago. We hope to continue to inspire visitors to Charleston with its fine art for generations to come, particularly in our centenary year of 2016 when this restoration work will be completed.”

The Charleston Trust were also grateful to the broadcaster Jon Snow who helped Charleston and the Art Fund launch the crowd funding campaign in July to help restore these key painted surfaces in the House – the only complete Bloomsbury interior in the world – which are in desperate need of restoration and conservation.

Charleston continues to be a hub of creativity and artistic inspiration for the thousands of visitors and contributors each year. The House and Gardens are open to the public until 1 November 2015 and reopen to the public on the 23 March 2016 for its centenary year, when the restored decorated interiors will be on full display.

For more details on the project, rewards and the restoration project updates this winter – visit: www.artfund.org/arthappens-charleston