National Partners

New National Partners share £1.65m to showcase Arts Council Collection

Main Image: Grayson Perry exhibition at Firstsite Gallery in Essex, which has become part of the Arts Council Collection's National Partners' Programme. Photograh by Alice Constance

Three cultural organisations have been successful and each awarded grants of £550,000 over the three years to put on exhibitions drawn from the Arts Council Collection. They are: Firstsite in Essex, Sunderland Culture in Tyne and Wear, and Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange in Cornwall

This is the second wave of Arts Council England’s National Partners’ Programme and will run from April 2019 to March 2022

The grants will support the organisations to present exhibitions that showcase and are inspired by work from the Arts Council Collection and to raise its profile with the public.

Funded by the National Lottery, the Arts Council says the National Partners’ Programme aims to increase the diversity and number of people enjoying the collection, and to support organisational development in regional art galleries.

Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange is one of the three new organisations of the National Partners' Programme promoting the Arts Council Collection. Photograph by Ian Kingsnorth

By working in partnership with the collection team at Southbank Centre, and Arts Council Collection Centre for Sculpture, based at Longside, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the partners will produce innovative exhibitions of the highest quality and reach new audiences through engagement activity.

“Bringing the Arts Council Collection to Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens is the latest instalment in the resurgence of the city as a centre for arts and culture,” said Keith Merrin, Chief Executive of Sunderland Culture. “Following hot on the heels of the reopening of the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art and the Tall Ships programme, that attracted over one million visitors to the city last year, as well as the current Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition. We know our audiences will relish the opportunity to be inspired by the very best of modern and contemporary British art from the Collection.”

We are delighted to be working with the Arts Council Collection to bring amazing works of art to audiences in Sunderland and the North East over the next three years

Keith Merrin, Chief Executive of Sunderland Culture

According to the Arts Council its collection is the most widely circulated national loan collection of modern and contemporary British art in the world, which now contains over 8,000 works including paintings, sculptures, prints and moving images.

James Green, Gallery Director, Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be given the opportunity to bring work from a world-class collection to audiences in Cornwall. The National Partners’ Programme will enable us to build on recent work exploring the civic role of the gallery and reimagine our relationship with communities in Penzance and further afield.”

The Arts Council says that the collection is the principal source of modern and contemporary loans to museums and galleries across the UK.

The initial three organisations to take part in the National Partners’ Programme were Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool that hosted 24 exhibitions over three years.

A Coven a Grove a Stand exhibition opening at the Firstsite Galery. Photograph by Maddie Pierce

Sally Shaw, Director of Firstsite said the gallery’s vision is to be an inspiring gallery that celebrates the people, places and priorities of Colchester, Essex and East Anglia. “Our partnership with the Arts Council Collection offers an amazing opportunity to share the making of the artistic programme with all sorts of different people,” she said. “With the process no longer hidden behind closed doors, we can give members of local community groups the opportunity to develop powerful connections to incredible artworks through the making of an exhibition, which will then be seen by thousands of people. Turning the exhibition making process inside out will create exhibitions which look and feel completely different, full of profound stories which relate to major international subjects.”

The Arts Council Collection has, for many years, played a valuable role in supporting galleries round the country through loans, touring exhibitions and curatorial training. The Collection welcomes requests for loans from galleries and museums as part of their exhibition and display programmes.

Peter Heslip, Arts Council England Director of Visual Arts, said: “The Arts Council Collection is ‘our collection’ – it belongs to the nation. We are so pleased that the coming years of the National Partners’ Programme will enable a greater number and wider variety of people from across England’s enjoyment of innovative exhibitions of works from the collection and engagement with the collection digitally and online, as well as children and young people benefitting from targeted learning activities.”

The Arts Council’s next country-wide exhibition The Printed Line takes place from 6 April.