Antony Sher dies

Antony Sher dies

Sir Antony Sher, perhaps the finest actor of his generation, has died aged 72, the Royal Shakespeare Company announced today.

TAITMAIL   Behind the battlements

TAITMAIL Behind the battlements

Nottingham Castle Museum was doing well, for a museum without much real history left to talk about, and it was getting a healthy 150,000 visitors a year - about half what Stonehenge gets - before it closed for its £30m refurb which it was hoped would double the numbers. 

Shebeen culture wins Turner Prize

Shebeen culture wins Turner Prize

Array Collective, the Belfast co-operative of 11 artists whose nominated work, The Druithaib’s Ball, is an installation centred on an illicit Irish drinking den described as “a place to gather outside the sectarian divides”, has won the 2021 Turner Prize.

ACE’s £38.3m for local culture

ACE’s £38.3m for local culture

Arts Council England has today announced grants worth £38.3m for the programme that makes partners of cultural organisations and communities.

Bird to quit SOLT and UK Theatre

Bird to quit SOLT and UK Theatre

Julian Bird is to stand down as CEO of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre after more than 11 years. 

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the month

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the month

London’s East End, June, 1957, by Frank Pocklington

Alan Sparrow talks to Frank Pocklington about his favourite Picture Post photograph

Sacha Craddock stands down at New Contemporaries

Sacha Craddock stands down at New Contemporaries

Sacha Craddock is stepping down as chair of New Contemporaries, the organisation set up more than 70 years ago to support emerging visual artists with touring exhibitions of their work.

Eilish McGuinness takes over at NHLF

Eilish McGuinness takes over at NHLF

Eilish McGuinness is to take over from Ros Kerslake as CEO of the National Heritage Lottery Fund at the end of the year.

Lewisham’s year of diverse culture

Lewisham’s year of diverse culture

Lewisham is to be London’s next Borough of Culture for 2022, focusing on diversity, activism and the climate emergency in a programme that was announced at the Rivoli Ballroom today.

Emmie Kell is ACE's new museums chief

Emmie Kell is ACE's new museums chief

Emmie Kell, CEO of the Cornwall Museums Partnership, is to be Arts Council England’s new director of museums and cultural property.

Merger creates Creative UK

Merger creates Creative UK

The Creative Industries Federation and Creative England have merged today to become Creative UK, bringing together the advocacy work of one body and the investment expertise and practical support of the other.

Kathryn Jacob to chair HOME

Kathryn Jacob to chair HOME

Kathryn Jacob, CEO of the cinema advertising agency Pearl & Dean, is to be the new chair of the Manchester arts centre HOME.

33% of musicians still earning nothing from music

33% of musicians still earning nothing from music

A third of our professional musicians are earning nothing from music and 87% are earning less than £1,000 a month, according to new figures today from the charity Help Musicians.

£1m hunt for young museumgoers as ‘perfect storm’ looms

£1m hunt for young museumgoers as ‘perfect storm’ looms

The Art Fund has launched a £1m fundraising campaign to help museums attract under 24-year-olds.

Another £107m for arts recovery

Another £107m for arts recovery

Almost 1,000 arts organisations are to benefit from a new round of £107m worth of grants from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

£5m for community jubilee parties

£5m for community jubilee parties

A new Arts Council fund is offering £5m to help voluntary and community organisations celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee next year.

Curators share £300k development funding

Curators share £300k development funding

The Art Fund has named the 11 museum professionals that will share the Headley Fellowship’s grants this year worth £302,500 to extend their collections knowledge.

THE WORD   Under-estimating the power of the tweet

THE WORD Under-estimating the power of the tweet

Social media have become essential to arts organisations, says a new report, and often rely on underpaid and under-resourced operators. Alice Kent of the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre asks what can professional networks, industry, funders and policy-makers do to ensure that digital workers are better supported

Birthday royal sculptures for Albert Hall

Birthday royal sculptures for Albert Hall

The Royal Albert Hall has commissioned sculptures of the Queen, Prince Philip, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert from four young artists to mark its 150th anniversary.

Ten Manchester music creatives offered £1k development packages

Ten Manchester music creatives offered £1k development packages

Manchester International Festival is offering £1,000 each to ten local musicians to help them create new work as part of its MIF Sounds initiative, launched last year at the height of the pandemic.

Florence Nightingale joins Lord Mayor’s parade

Florence Nightingale joins Lord Mayor’s parade

Marking the completion of her 200th birthday celebrations., Florence Nightingale joined the Lord Mayor of London’s Show at the weekend.

Giant print plant plays host to classical experiment

Giant print plant plays host to classical experiment

A printing plant that once one of the largest in Europe has been the venue for a pioneering immersive concert.

Mariam Zulfiqar to lead Artangel

Mariam Zulfiqar to lead Artangel

Mariam Zulfiqar, Forestry England’s contemporary art programme manager since March this year, is to be the new director or of the public art producer Artangel.

Barbican takes action after damning discrimination report

Barbican takes action after damning discrimination report

The Barbican has vowed to take decisive action “to build a culture where staff feel confident, valued and respected” following a damning report by an independent investigation team.

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.

Print Email

AINews