Simon Wales to take over at Bristol Beacon

Simon Wales to take over at Bristol Beacon

Louise Mitchell’s successor as CEO of Bristol Beacon is to be Simon Wales, currently head of the Stowe House Preservation Trust.

TAITMAIL   A tide of creativity

TAITMAIL A tide of creativity

Art has never been subject to boundaries, and when politicians and educationalists define science and art as separate disciplines they’re missing the point. As anyone with a scintilla of imagination knows, art is nature, nature is science, science is art.

Public wants public funding for museums – report

Public wants public funding for museums – report

In the face of swingeing cuts to the resources of local, regional and national museums, a new survey shows that the public wants our museums to be supported by public funding.

BM starts search for remake masterminds

BM starts search for remake masterminds

The British Museum has launched an international competition to find architects to redesign its western range of galleries, currently housing the Elgin Marbles, as part of its long-term £1bn restoration and recasting programme.

ACE pledges £24m more for capital investment

ACE pledges £24m more for capital investment

Arts Council England is giving £24.2m to improve cultural infrastructure in 67 organisations, it has announced today.

Seabright takes over at Horniman

Seabright takes over at Horniman

Gordon Seabright, head if the Creative Land Trust, is to be the next chief executive of the Horniman Museum in South London. He will succeed Nick Merriman, who has become CEO of English Heritage, in July.

Name change for Royal Opera House

Name change for Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden is changing its name to the Royal Ballet and Opera House so that the theatre’s full range of activity is clear for potential audiences.

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM   Image of the Month

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the Month

Basque refugees at Southampton by Frank Rust, 23 May 1937, Daily Mail

TAITMAIL Museums of serious fun

TAITMAIL Museums of serious fun

Art Fund has announced the shortlisted museums for the 2024 Museum of the Year award, the winner getting £120,000 and the runners-up £15,000 each. For four of the five it will be won by an institution unrecognisable as a museum by their founding fathers.

‘Peoples’ museums’ in line for £120k Art Fund prize

‘Peoples’ museums’ in line for £120k Art Fund prize

Museums that have moulded their new approach around visitors rather than collections are competing for the Art Fund Museum of the Year award.

Cartmell heads for Royal Exchange

Cartmell heads for Royal Exchange

Selina Cartmell is to be the first creative director of the Royal Exchange, Manchester, taking up the post in August.

Keegan cuts university arts funding in favour of STEM

Keegan cuts university arts funding in favour of STEM

Education secretary Gillian Keegan is cutting funding for university performing arts and creative courses in favour of  science and technology studies.

Foley to leave Birmingham Rep

Foley to leave Birmingham Rep

Sean Foley is stepping down as artistic director of Birmingham Rep, a decision he says is unconnected with Birmingham Council’s recent 100% budget cut to the company, which he said created a difficult outlook”.

Cardiff national museum may close after Gething refuses help

Cardiff national museum may close after Gething refuses help

National Museums Wales’ Cardiff flagship may have to close and 90 jobs will be axed after the Welsh government refused to step in to help.

£14.8m for industrial heritage skill building

£14.8m for industrial heritage skill building

Seven industrial heritage projects across the UK that focus on training for traditional skills are to benefit from a £14.8m grant package from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

TAITMAIL Despite the odds, orchestras are hooking new concert-goers

TAITMAIL Despite the odds, orchestras are hooking new concert-goers

This weekend, for two nights, the enormous 40,000 seat La Defense arena - which doubles as a concert venue and a rugby stadium - will be filled with excited youngsters eager to hear, not a pop star or a rock group, but the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM   Image of the Month

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the Month

Sylvester Mittee’s hands by Eamonn McCabe, 1981, The Observer

Cullinan to be next BM director

Cullinan to be next BM director

Nicholas Cullinan, currently director of the National Portrait Gallery, is to head the British Museum in possibly its most troubled period in its 256-year history. The appointment was approved by 10 Downing Street today.

English Heritage opens to food bank customers

English Heritage opens to food bank customers

Users of food banks will be able to visit English Heritage properties free over the Easter break.

£33m levelling up money for museums and libraries

£33m levelling up money for museums and libraries

Nearly 70 museums and libraries in England are to benefit from the latest round of funding from the government’s Cultural Investment Fund (CIF).

TAITMAIL    Chatsworth: The future for stately homes that can no longer be merely visitor attractions

TAITMAIL Chatsworth: The future for stately homes that can no longer be merely visitor attractions

For as long as anyone can remember, Chatsworth House’s logo has been the imposing Palladian façade, a forbidding aspect. Not anymore. 

South Ken back on the street…

South Ken back on the street…

South Kensington’s arts and science institutions are combining to stage the fifth Great Exhibition Street Festival this summer.

Creative exports still rising despite Brexit

Creative exports still rising despite Brexit

The UK’s creative industries' service exports have continued to rise despite Covid and Brexit, according to a new report from the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (Creative PEC) published today.

Campbell leaves Theatre Wales after grant slashed

Campbell leaves Theatre Wales after grant slashed

Lorne Campbell is standing down as artistic director and CEO of National Theatre Wales in the middle of a restructure that follows the 100% cut in its Arts Council Wales grant.

Taking popularity seriously

The Art Fund just keeps on giving. Not only is it happy to cough up £100,000 every year for the Museum of the Year winner, as of this year the runners up all get £10,000 as well.

Nine years ago when it took the prize over from the Gulbenkian and wrested control from the trust that founded it, the expectation was that at best it would be very much revised, at worst a year later that the fund’s new director Stephen Deuchar would see it as an over-lavish extravagance for a charity entirely dependent on its membership and those members’ good will.


At a hundred grand it is easily the most generous museum prize in the world, the biggest arts prize in Britain, which was part of the founding principle in the early noughties when a group of museum people, led by Simon Thurley then of the Museum of London, wanted to combine half a dozen existing prizes that no-one really noticed and create one that would be so big no-one could avoid it, and thereby take museums seriously. Or less seriously, if you like, but make them more popular. Sadly, one of the leading proponents and the most determined trustee, Jim Bishop (once of The Times and the Illustrated London News, later chairman of National Heritage), died last month and his memory deserves a prize in his name.
 
They had to wait two or three years before Mark Taylor of the Museums Association announced that he had talked the Gulbenkian into it, and it launched in 2003. The Gulbenkian, guided by Sian Ede, did it for five years and withdrew – the prize might be £100,000 but it costs at least as much again to run it: panic – recession loomed, who would have a spare £100k? And the Art Fund’s David Barrie stepped forward.
 
But Deuchar, who succeeded Barrie, has taken the founding spirit on full belt, and last night the shortlist for the 15th winner was announced. The magic of this prize is that it goes simply to “the best museum or gallery in the UK”, no other qualifications or provisos or declarations of how sensibly they would use the money and not fritter it away. It’s open to any museum or gallery, monumental or tiny, and representatives of both nodes on the spectrum have won it. Nottingham’s Galleries of Justice, this week reinvented as the National Justice Museum, was the first winner.

And if it hasn’t entirely been responsible for the boom in museum attendances that has happened since it started 14 years ago, it has certainly been part of it. The national media have to take notice, and last night’s announcement of the shortlist, not even the winner, was deemed worthy of a whole Front Row half hour on Radio 4 (above), which gave the BM’s Hartwig Fischer the chance to say why he’s moving things around there but with the Elgin Marbles staying put, the V&A’s Tristram Hunt why he is no longer in favour of charging for admission at national museums, and everyone to bemoan the terrible state of local funding.
 
This morning museum folk will have been picking over the choices of the judges – each list as eclectic as the other, the panel being the BM’s new director, Hartwig Fischer; Boris Johnson’s culture deputy when he was mayor, Munira Mirza; the Radio 2 DJ Jo Wiley; and the artist Richard Deacon.
 
The shortlist is the Lapworth Museum of Geology in Birmingham which has just had a £2.7m refurb, which is gratifyingly little and unknown; Tate Modern’s £260m Switch House built on the back of the Boilerhouse bit of the old Bankside Power Station which, as Nick Serota’s last hurrah, almost has to be there but probably won’t win it because a London national, the V&A, won it last year; The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art in Newmarket, opened by the Queen in November and which has live horses in it; everybody’s favourite Museum, the Sir John Soane’s, which has transformed itself by opening up the private apartments at the top; and the probably winner, for me, the Hepworth Wakefield which opened  five years ago in a corner of Yorkshire but has subsequently made a national impact, with last year creating the first national sculpture prize.
 
But any one of them could win it, and we’re back at the BM in July to find out which does.

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