ARTS agency Creative Scotland has admitted breaching its own funding guidelines by handing the new V&A museum in Dundee a grant of £5 million.
The award is more than double the quango’s funding limit for major capital projects and dwarfs anything else it has funded since it was formed in 2010.
The grant, believed to be a crucial part of the funding package for the project to create an international centre of design, is over and above £18 million worth of support from the Scottish Government, which has been in place for more than two years.
Creative Scotland chiefs admitted a special case was made for the international design museum due to the “scale and ambition” of the building, which will cost £45 million to build and up to £3.5 million a year to run and maintain.
Creative Scotland’s backing for the scheme - the centrepiece of Dundee’s £1 billion waterfront regeneration - has emerged two months after the Heritage Lottery Fund committed £9.4 million to the project and councillors endorsed a £5 million subsidy over the course of 10 years.
A taskforce masterminding the project, earmarked for a vast site on the city’s waterfront, said it expected work to be underway by the summer of this year, with the building completed by the end of 2016 and ready for a public opening the following year.
However the project is still more than £10 million short of its fundraising target, which another £2.5 million in public funds still being sought and more than half of the £15 million targeted from private donors and sponsors still to be found.
The new funding deal, which represents around five per cent of Creative Scotland’s annual budget, was considered separately from applications to its capital fund, which has a strict funding cap of £2 million per application and has been heavily over-subscribed for each of the two years it has been running to date.
Officials in charge of the project admitted the attraction, the first Victoria and Albert attraction and UK design museum outside London, would not now until until 2017 at the earliest - three years later than originally envisaged.
The museum, which will showcase thousands of items from the V&S’s world-renowned collections, is being led by a steering group involving Dundee City Council, Dundee University, the University of Abertay and Scottish Enterprise.
The winning design for the project, by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, was unveiled in November 2010, but progress has been slow since then as the complex funding package has gradually been put in place.
When the Scottish Government, which announced its backing for the project the following year, unveiled a full £18 million package of support in January 2012 it was hoped the Dundee V&A would be ready by 2015.
However with the timetable slipping, the architects’s original vision had to be scaled back, as the site of the museum was relocated towards the city from a “floating” site originally proposed over the River Tay.
Philip Long, director of the project, told The Scotsman that Creative Scotland had invited an application for funding for the project last summer following years of discussion about possible support.
He added: “We have envisaged Creative Scotland as playing a key role in the project and being much more than a funding partner.
“What will be doing here is fundamental to their remit and it is very important to us to have them on board.
“They are the main body which distributes lottery money for arts projects in Scotland so it was only natural for us to apply to them for funding.”
Mr Long said the proposed funding for the £45 million project was a three-way split between the Scottish Government, other public bodies and private funds. Some £6.7 million has been confirmed from the latter source, with £2.7 million secured in the last 12 months.
He added: “That is roughly in line with where we would hope to be at this stage before any building work is even underway.”
A spokesman for Creative Scotland said the talks with the V&A team pre-dated the launch of its capital funding schemes, which have a £2 million limit for major projects, such as Scotland’s proposed film studio complex, the extensions to the Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall buildings in Glasgow, a revamp and extension of Perth Theatre, and a relocation of Edinburgh’s Collective Gallery to the top of Calton Hill.
The spokesman added: “We have been in discussions with the V&A for the past three years and have awarded the funding following a successful application and submission from the V&A which was approved by our board at their meeting on 20 March 20.
“The last round of the large capital programme had a cap of £2m and we have awarded £25 million through the last two rounds of the programme. However, the V&A application was submitted separately.
We feel that the scale and ambition of the V&A at Dundee project and the positive impact that this development will have on the city, the region and the country as a whole is significant enough to merit this scale of award.”
Janet Archer, Creative Scotland’s chief executive, added: “Our support will enable an exciting contemporary offering to local, national and international audiences, welcoming the world’s best designers to Scotland, building on the strong design talent that exists here and ensuring a lasting design heritage for this country in years to come.”
Fiona Hyslop, Scottish culture secretary, said: “The V&A at Dundee will give the city a world-class visitor attraction and design museum, create local jobs and contribute significantly to the regeneration of the city and its waterfront.
“The announcement by Creative Scotland recognises the strength of the likely V&A cultural programme for this ambitious and transformational project.”
Creative Scotland’s backing has emerged two months after the Heritage Lottery Fund confirmed £9.4 million for the project. The sum had originally been pledged in 2012, when the Scottish Government committed £15 million.