South Western Federation of Museums and Art Galleries

Cornwall's Newlyn Art Gallery becomes an Arts Council Collection National Partner

Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange in Cornwall has been awarded £550,000 over three years, as part of the National Partners Programme 2019-2022. The grant will support the organisation to present exhibitions that showcase and are inspired by work from the Arts Council Collection.

Through a sustained presence across the three years, the National Partners have an opportunity to build a deeper relationship between audiences and the Arts Council Collection. For Newlyn, the curatorial voice informing the exhibitions will come from different communities and individuals in Cornwall, those that represent the diversity of contemporary Britain.

Funded by the National Lottery, the National Partners Programme aims to increase the diversity and number of people enjoying the Arts Council Collection, and to support organisational development in regional art galleries. As part of the Groundwork programme last summer, Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange took Janet Cardiff’s ‘Motet For Forty Voices’ to the edge of Treneere estate in Penzance, the most deprived ward of Cornwall, attracting 8,000 visitors over its short run. Following on from this success, Newlyn will continue with off-site programming, exhibiting the Collection in Penzance and Newlyn, as well as in non-gallery locations across Newlyn, Penzance, Penwith and on digital platforms.

Image: Moogie Wonderland's Bearhaus happening at Newlyn Art Gallery in 2016

The Arts Council Collection is the most widely circulated national loan collection of modern and contemporary British art in the world, containing over 8,000 works including paintings, sculptures, prints and moving images, part of which has now been digitised. Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange will explore the potential of this digitised collection as a curatorial tool, enabling new inclusive curatorial approaches and removing barriers to accessing work. The fund enables the gallery to create up to six new jobs to deliver their programme, one of which will be for the appointment of a Digital Curator, to explore these options fully and promote digital literacy with audiences.

Newlyn hope to encourage a wide range of applications to their positions by working with specialist agencies to create recruitment opportunities for applicants who often feel discouraged from applying for jobs in galleries. By creating new entry routes into employment in the sector, Newlyn can promote wider change and explore the benefits of this to share with partners.

As part of the fund, the West Cornwall gallery will work in partnership with the Collection team at Southbank Centre; Arts Council Collection Centre for Sculpture, based at Longside; Yorkshire Sculpture Park; Plus Tate; and the two other recipients of the fund, Firstsite in Colchester, Essex, and Sunderland Culture in Tyne and Wear. By working in partnership with the multiple organisations, the National Partners are able to share skills and knowledge to support each other’s development and produce innovative exhibitions that are relevant and meaningful to the communities they sit within as well as exploring opportunities for the development of the sector.

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 Partner 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.”

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: “This is a fantastic win for Newlyn Art Gallery and the Exchange and for Cornwall more widely. Having access to nationally significant loans from the Arts Council Collection and the chance to collaborate with Sunderland Culture and Firstsite in Essex poses a real opportunity for Newlyn and enhances the cultural offer for local people as well as attracting more visitors to the region.”

Jill Constantine, Director of the Arts Council Collection, said: "I'm delighted that Culture Sunderland, Firstsite and Newlyn Art Gallery will be our new partners in this next round of the National Partners Programme and look forward to building on the successes of the previous round to produce some great exhibitions. Working with them means the Arts Council Collection will be able to reach an even wider public and allow those audiences to enjoy the very best of contemporary art in these very special galleries."