Contemporary Art scheme for regions

The Contemporary Art Society has launched a scheme to enable regional museums to acquire major work by a British artist every year.

The Great Works scheme, which is backed by the Sfumato Foundation, will allow 69 museums to apply for the award, the majority of which are outside London.

The winning museum will be asked to make a strong case for how an acquisition of this scale would benefit the institution in relation to their audiences, scholarship and profile of the museum. In particular, the successful applicant will make the case for the acquisition of work by an artist with a substantial connection to the museum’s existing collections, city or region.   

The scheme aims to address the absence in museums across the UK of works by British contemporary artists who have established international reputations over the last 20 years.

Outside Tate, the British Council, Arts Council and Government Art Collections, there are very few or no works by many leading British-based artists such as Sarah Lucas, Mark Wallinger, Rachel Whiteread and Wolfgang Tillmans. Museums are struggling to collect the work of living artists in today’s inflated arts market.

The deadline for applications will be the end of February 2016 and the successful applicant informed in March 2016. The work acquired will go on show to the public at the winning museum in 2016/17.

Caroline Douglas, director of the CAS,  said: “Collecting the art of our time is the lifeblood of a museum and it has now become practically impossible for many museums in the UK to do so without philanthropic support. It is particularly important because contemporary art appeals to young people and is often the way that they are introduced to our great museum collections.”

The CAS has a track record of substantial support to regional museums: CAS gifted a major painting by Francis Bacon to Huddersfield in the mid-40s, an installation by Olafur Eliasson to Eastbourne in the late 90s and most recently donated a work by rising star Hito Steyerl to GOMA in Glasgow, the first work by this artist to enter a public collection in this country.

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