Following the announcement that both Penelope Curtis and Chris Dercon are stepping down, JJ Charlesworth questions whether Tate is facing a crisis, and asks what place Tate Britain has in the UK’s cultural scene today.
Chris Dercon's departure as head of Tate Modern, to become director of Berlin's Volksbühne theatre (but not before 2017), comes at an awkward time for the Tate. It's been only a few weeks since the resignation of Tate Britain's director Penelope Curtis, who announced her move to Portugal's Calouste Gulbenkian Museum after a bruising year of bad press, in which Britain's newspaper pundits groused incessantly about Curtis's unconventional programming (See Penelope Curtis Leaves Tate Britain for Calouste Gulbenkian Museum after Highly Criticized 5-Year Tenure and Chris Dercon Leaves Tate Modern To Direct Berlin's Volksbühne Theater).
As the BBC's arts editor Will Gompertz suggested, while losing two directors in two months might merely be regarded as bad luck, Dercon's exit will be seen as a blow to the Tate. Between Curtis's resignation and Dercon's, others have been inclined to pin the blame on the Tate's head, Nicolas Serota: writing in the right-leaning Spectator on the problems of Tate Britain under Curtis, Jack Wakefield declared that “if her reign has proved a disaster then questions should be asked about who appointed her. The culprit is Sir Nicholas Serota." Wakefield goes on to argue that “Serota and his internationally focused trustees should not control the position" of appointing Tate Britain's director... Keep reading on artnet