Robot artist released for exhibition after detainment

25 Oct 2021

British robot artist Ai-Da has opened an exhibition and sculpture trail at Egypt’s pyramids after being held up at the country's border for 10 days.

The world’s first artificially intelligent humanoid robot was detained by Egyptian authorities on suspicion of espionage, with officials concerned about the robot’s modem and eye cameras.

“The whole situation is ironic, because the goal of Ai-Da was to highlight and warn of the abuse of technological development, and she’s being held because she is technology,” creator Aidan Meller commented.
The Forever Is Now exhibition features Ai-Da’s Immortal Riddle, a two-metre-tall self portrait sculpture of a mummified robot in a sarcophagus.

Running until November 7, the exhibition is the first art show to take place at the Pyramids of Egypt.

Khan invests £1m to diversify London’s public spaces

21 Oct 2021

A new fund to improve the diversity of London’s public spaces has been announced by London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Untold Stories will offer community-led organisations between £1,000 and £25,000 to develop new murals, street art, street names and programmes.

Recent research into London’s sculptures found huge gaps in representation. More than a fifth of London's statues are dedicated to named men, whilst only 4% are dedicated to named women. Just three of almost 1500 public monuments depict named women of colour.

Khan said London’s statues, street names and buildings have shown a limited perspective of the city’s history for “far too long”.

“I’m determined to do everything I can to ensure our public realm presents a more complete picture of everyone who has made London the incredible city it is today.”

Untold Stories opened its first application round Thursday (October 21), with a deadline of January 12.

White-led Chinese art gallery seeks new director

19 Oct 2021

Manchester’s Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) is recruiting a new director following the resignation of Zoe Dunbar, its director of seven years.

Recruitment for a new Community Development and Engagement Manager and new trustees is also under way.

In September, the art gallery said it would set targets for staff and board members of Chinese heritage after facing accusations of “organisational yellowface”.

The announcement came after a working group contracted to address the allegations disbanded before final recommendations were submitted, citing racist attitudes at board level.

The organisation's interim director, Thanh Sinden, is of East Asian descent.

Current Chair of the Board of Trustees Nick Buckley Wood said the centre has been through a “difficult” time.

“But we have learned vital lessons that will prepare us for a much stronger future. I am looking forward to bringing new trustees on board as we prepare to open to the public next year.”

'Break glass' campaign highlights inequalities in the arts

14 Oct 2021

A giant box bearing the slogan "break in case of arts emergency" has appeared in London as part of a campaign highlighting inequalities in the arts.

The boxes showcase artworks by young people involved with charity Arts Emergency as well as statistics on the arts workforce. 'Break the glass' is a euphemism for joining the mentoring network.

Only 4.8% of people working in music or the visual or performing arts are from a Black, Asian or ethnic minority background and only 12% are working class, Arts Emergency reports.

The box has debuted at the Museum of London and will tour several local venues before arriving at Liverpool's World Museum in time for its 2022 launch event.

The campaign is supported by organisations including the BFI, Whitworth Gallery, Strawberries and Creem Festival and professional website Linkedin.


Art Fund awards £650k in new grants scheme

11 Oct 2021

Art Fund has announced the first wave of winners for its £2m Reimagine grants programme.

Twenty-two museums, galleries, historic houses and trusts have been awarded a share of £658,331.

Nine organisations have been awarded grants between £5,000 and £15,000, with a further 13 receiving funding up to £50,000.

The programme, which helps projects and networks "navigate their way to recovery" from the pandemic, prioritised applications focused on collections, digital work, audience engagement and the workforce.

Winning bids included a transatlantic slavery project led by National Museums Liverpool, a captioning project by Nottingham Contemporary, and 'Minecraft Museum', a project marrying gaming and curation at The Story Museum.

Visual arts nework CVAN will received funding to strengthen its advocacy and professional development work.

"Museums often produce what seem like miracles on a shoestring, but they need enhanced resources – such as in digital, specialist support and staffing – to truly build for the future," Art Fund Director Jenny Waldman said.

Grant winners for the second wave of funding will be announced in November, with the final round scheduled for December.

Northern Ireland's arts engagement drops to 12 year low

06 Oct 2021

The number of adults engaging in arts and culture in Northern Ireland has fallen once again.

Continuous Household Survey data for 2020/21 shows 81% of adults engaged in arts and culture in the last 12 months, compared to 87% in 2019/20. 

This year's figure represents the lowest recorded for engagement in arts and culture since 2008/09.

Despite the overall decrease, the number of adults using public libraries increased from 23% to 28%.

The number of adults visiting a museum or science centre remained stable at 37%.

This year's report is the first to record engagement against deprivation. 84% of adults living in Northern Ireland's least deprived areas engaged in arts and culture compared to 78% living in the most deprived areas.

‘Re-veiling’ commemorates the truth of statues

A procession of people
06 Oct 2021

We often don’t notice statues of people, but they are part of our cultural history. Who are they? Why are they there? And where are the women? These are questions that fascinate Wanda Zyborska.

DACS distributes £5.6m in payback royalties

04 Oct 2021

The Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS) has distributed £5.6m in payback royalties to 86,000 visual artists this year.

The Payback scheme pays photographers, illustrators and artists annual when their artworks are published in UK books and magazines or on TV.

DACS said the scheme gave artists a "reliable source of income" during the tumult of the pandemic. 

It has paid out over £65m through Payback since its inception in 1999.

Visual artists interested in joining the scheme can register at DACS' website to be notified when it reopens in January.

Curatorial scheme to tackle social mobility in visual arts

Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries participants
04 Oct 2021

The pilot programme will “challenge accepted barriers” in one of the sector’s least inclusive professions.

Immersive exhibition merges art with science at COP26

29 Sep 2021

An immersive art installation opening this weekend will mark the UN's Convention on Climate Change (COP26) in Glasgow.

Polar Zero, a collaboration between the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), British Antarctic Survey, engineering consultants Arup and the Royal College of Art, includes a glass sculpture encasing Antarctic Air from 1765 and an Antarctic ice core drilled out of a glacier.

The centrepieces are significant because they provide scientific evidence of the earth's temperature before the industrial revolution - a turning point in global warming - and the state of the atmosphere now.

AHRC Executive Chair Professor Christopher Smith said Polar Zero "epitomises the power of the arts and arts s research to tackle pressing contemporary issues such as climate change".

“It translates crucial but complex scientific research in a way that will resonate deeply and emotionally with diverse audiences to inspire lasting change."

Polar Zero opens at Glasgow Science Centre on October 2.

A curatorial career driving culture-led regeneration

image of Victoria Pomery
28 Sep 2021

Ten years after Turner Contemporary opened its doors to the public, its Director Victoria Pomery OBE is stepping down. Here she reflects on her career.

Salisbury named UK’s art buying capital

27 Sep 2021

Research by art marketplace Artfinder has ranked Salisbury as the top art buying location in the UK.

The Wiltshire city ranked number one with 515 artworks bought per 100,000 inhabitants. Oxford and Cambridge placed second and third, with 478 and 471 art sales per 100,000 residents respectively.

The research also found UK art buyers purchase paintings more than other kinds of art, with oil and acrylic paintings the most popular.

Salisbury based artist James Earley said the city was an “ideal” place to practice and show art.

"It is a huge compliment to the city and to those who have pushed art to the forefront through opening studios and exhibitions. It is now one of the pillars of the city and I truly believe this to be a celebration for Salisbury’s diversity."

Almost half of independent cinemas are operating at a loss

22 Sep 2021

47% of independent cinemas, film festivals and exhibitors are operating at a loss, according to a new survey by the Independent Cinema Office (ICO).

38% of respondents said they need further support to cover loss of income, with 24% adding they won't survive into 2022. 

The ICO said the results show reopening “continues to be a very risky operating environment”.

“Cinemas are trying to find a balance between safe facilities for audiences and viable operations of the cinema. There are challenges in making venues both safe and welcoming again.”

There is a silver lining: through online programming and collaboration with independent distributors, cinemas have shown more indepedently released films this year.

Auction to split proceeds equally between artists

20 Sep 2021

Educational arts charity Art UK has opened an auction fundraiser which will split proceeds equally between all participating artists.

Buy Art To Help Art UK features a live auction at London's Cromwell Place on September 29 and an online auction, now open for bids until September 30.

The auctions include work from over 140 artists priced from £50 to £50,000, but proceeds will be split equally between the artists.

Art UK Director Andy Ellis says the charity's share of sales will go towards increasing access to its national art collection, expanding its learning resources and telling the stories of underrepresented artists.

“Please support us if you can by buying a great piece of art or telling your friends about what’s on offer."

Teen curates catalogue of MPs' favourite artworks

14 Sep 2021

A catalogue featuring the favourite artworks of 101 Members of Parliament is now available online.

John Lilbourne, 18, curated the online exhibition after writing to all 650 MPs during lockdown, asking: "What is your favourite owned artwork?".

Dear John features his favourite responses from cross party MPs, including cabinet ministers Oliver Dowden and Priti Patel.

Works on display range from portraits of the Queen and Margaret Thatcher to art created by MPs' children. 

Dowden sent a photograph of the Queen from Twitter and Matt Hancock has a Damien Hirst portrait of the monarch.

Jacob Rees-Mogg highlighted a 15th Century statue from the studio of Italian sculptor Della Robia.

When asked why he undertook the project, Lilbourne said:

"These are people who make the decisions that govern our lives, but they feel so unreachable. By writing to them with this question I was trying to find a human connection.”

White-led Chinese art gallery vows to change

09 Sep 2021

A lack of leadership, engagement and morale has caused an exodus of staff and reputational crisis - but the centre's position is "redeemable".

Curators of the future

exhibition and showcase
07 Sep 2021

Being disabled in the visual arts sector has presented galleries with serious challenges. But Mike Layward is optimistic about programmes which promote much needed change.

Belgium prescribes culture for Covid stress

06 Sep 2021

Patients diagnosed with Covid-related stress in Brussels are being prescribed free visits to museums and galleries.

Doctors at Brugmman Hospital are offering visits to five publicly owned sites across the Belgian capital, including its centre for contemporary art, a fashion museum and a museum of the city's sewage system.

“It has been shown that art can be beneficial for health, both mental and physical,” Brussels' City Councillor for Tourism Delphine Houba said.

The idea forms part of a three-month pilot scheme designed to bolster mental health during the pandemic.

Inspiration has come from a similar programme in Quebec, Canada, where doctors prescribe up to 50 museum visits a year per patient.

£100m in royalties paid to visual artists

06 Sep 2021

Visual artists' rights manager DACS is celebrating a milestone: £100m distributed to artists.

Since resale rights were passed into law, the organisation has paid these royalties to 5,624 artists. The rights are payable on any secondary sales of works over €1,000.

However, more than half of all eligible sales are less than £5,000, meaning the right represents a vital source of income for lower-earning artists.

"In the current climate as artists face the myriad of challenges of the pandemic, many without the security of government support, that is more important than ever," DACS Chief Executive Gilane Tawadros said.


Bank of England removes art with slavery links

31 Aug 2021

The Bank of England has removed 10 oil paintings and busts of governors and directors with known connections to the transatlantic slave trade.

On display within the bank’s headquarters and museum, the works from the 18th and 19th Century included its founding director Gilbert Heathcote. 

The bank announced a review of its art collection last June following last year’s Black Lives Matter protests.

It has also hired a researcher on slavery for its museum, to “explore the bank's historic links with the transatlantic slave trade in detail.”

A Bank of England spokesperson said the work will shape future museum displays interpreting these connections.



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