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The beginnings of TFEA go back to the Essex Gallery Commission which was set up in late 1999 by a local arts activist with the objective of lobbying to get an iconic building for the artists of Essex to show their work and also to be involved in community outreach through workshops, demonstrations etc. Three of the founding members at that time were our present Chair, Trevor Harwood, Mike Harrington and Elizabeth Grant. Over time the objective proved very difficult although we engaged with Thames Gateway, Southend Council and Chelmsford Council by providing advice, plans and research. Gradually our objectives changed and the Essex Gallery Commission numbers diminished. Nonetheless two great projects were achieved: The Basildon Heritage Project and Our Basildon. It was decided to focus on Basildon at that time as it was and continues to be an area of need.

The Essex Gallery Commission changed its name and became The Foundation for Essex Arts Ltd. It registered in April 2011 with the Charities Commission. In 2012 Peter Patterson and Geoff Williams. Trustees of the Basildon Arts Trust (BAT) asked Elizabeth Grant to come on board to try and help them move forward. They had been in a difficult situation for some time and needed help to rescue a collection of approximately 70 works of art. It was a complicated situation as the Trust set up in 1978 no longer met Charity Commission regulations. Our original Chair, Vin Harrop and another trustee, Peter Tucker, retired and the new Chair and Board of Trustees began to consider a fresh direction. Elizabeth proposed a merger with BAT so we could help them and engage in a longer term development plan. TFEA had been project driven and this no longer seemed viable. All parties agreed and we became one organisation in 2013 caring for the BAT Collection and planning a way forward which could meet our new mission; enriching lives through the arts.

We completed the sale through Christie's of London of the seven paintings which formed a particular gift from the Stuyvesant Foundation to the Basildon Arts Trust (BAT) back in the early 1980s. These were mostly large 1950s/60s abstracts. The main issue had been that BAT had relied on Basildon Council to store and care for them. Sadly, over time and for various reasons these paintings became dirty, damaged and were stored with others inappropriately. Tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of damage was done and BAT could not afford storage facilities. When BAT and The Foundation for Essex Arts Ltd merged, the decision to do something about the paintings formed part of our strategy to help young people from Basildon and Essex to study the arts. We set up a bursary fund to be administered by University of the Arts London (UAL) using the money from the sale of the restored works. UAL have proved to be wonderful partners and have put their resources and considerable expertise into assisting us for which we are extremely grateful. We encourage the students we help to be Ambassadors (role models) for children who are low in aspiration and often from deprived backgrounds. We want disadvantaged children to know life holds more for them and there is a future in creativity and the creative industries generally.

We anticipate being able to give bursaries for up to six students annually by academic year two/three and also be able to set up a hardship fund in due course. We are unique benefactors to UAL in that the students can study any arts subject at any of the UAL establishments. The TFEA/BAT Bursary was launched at a Private View at the Beecroft Gallery in Essex on Friday 15th January 2016 at the commencement of the TFEA/BAT Collection Exhibition which ran from16th January to 12th March 2016. TFEA also engages with schools in south Essex by running annual Creative Industries Careers Fairs at Woodlands School, Basildon in collaboration with UAL and other partners.

Trevor Harwood - Chair (Artist & Teacher, retired businessman), Mike Harrington (Artist & Youth Worker - retired), Peter Patterson (Gallerist, businessman & former BAT Trustee), Elizabeth Grant - Development & acting Secretary (Artist, Historian & Political Scientist) and Colin Grant - Treasurer (Lloyd’s of London - retired).

Honorary Members:
Geoff Williams MBE, Karen J. Deane.
Retired Trustees: Vin Harrop, Peter Tucker and Valerie Webb
Our Patrons:
Sir Andrew Motion (currently residing in the U.S.) Richard Sorrell, RA, (currently lives and works in Cornwall but has connections with Essex) and the internationally known artist, Mark Wallinger who is originally from Essex. We are actively, seeking one more patron who may come from the world of the dramatic arts or another creative arts arena.