Plans advance to share new national contemporary art gallery across Wales
Up to ten venues are being considered to jointly house a new National Contemporary Art Gallery across Wales, according to the Welsh Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport.
Dawn Bowden MS has outlined progress on the development which could see the gallery being accommodated in a number of venues around Wales with one ‘anchor’ site, as well as an online collection.
Ms Bowden says the geographically dispersed model being explored will allow greater access to contemporary art for communities across Wales, bringing art closer to people across Wales.
The development of the online gallery is also in progress, focusing on mobile and desktop websites, while the digitisation of works from the National Collection is underway with over 6,000 works photographed and over 8,000 assets already digitised by the end of June.
The National Contemporary Art Gallery steering group worked through the pandemic, to digitise assets in the collection as a basis for delivering several digital projects to entertain and educate, or to support NHS staff and patients.
The ‘Art in hospitals’ project allowed staff to choose images for field hospitals and vaccination centres during the pandemic, while a short series of creative commissions were created for new contemporary art under the banner ‘Artists respond to the now’.
These were developed under the banner Celf ar y Cyd and included the interactive digital platform, Art 100 Celf, Amgueddfa Cymru’s website and the AM Platform.
Network of galleries
Proposals for a national contemporary art gallery were explored following a feasibility study in 2018.
In December 2021 a draft budget was published by the Welsh Government as part of Labour’s own programme for government and also the Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru.
It included £127m to be invested in theatres and museums, including Theatr Clwyd, the establishment of a Football Museum for Wales, a National Contemporary Art Gallery and a Museum for North Wales
Ms Bowden said: “I am grateful for the work undertaken so far, through the collaboration between the Arts Council of Wales, National Library of Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru
“Confidential discussions are continuing with venues to determine their state of readiness to participate in the dispersed model; timescales and the level of resources required.
“We are also exploring the potential for an anchor site, which would provide a dedicated and permanent venue, where items from the national collection are exhibited and accessible throughout the year and where the best of Welsh and international contemporary art can be showcased, experienced and created.
“Work has started to identify this anchor site. A request for candidate sites will be issued this month, with responses requested by 31 August.
“A phased approach will be taken to set up the network of galleries across Wales and further announcements about progress will be made in the autumn.
“We will be engaging with the visual arts community more widely in the development of the National Contemporary Art Gallery.”
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