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New Art Exchange says it is the first cultural institution in the world to integrate a permanent citizen assembly into its leadership structure.

Saad Eddine Said, CEO and Artistic Director of New Art Exchange, standing outside the building
Saad Eddine Said, CEO and Artistic Director of New Art Exchange, says he wants the neighbourhood to be part of decision-making

New Art Exchange

Residents living in the area around the New Art Exchange (NAE) gallery in Nottingham will be given the opportunity to shape its decisions as part of a permanent citizens' assembly at the top of the organisation.

The 'VOICE Assembly', which will have its first meeting next month will be "embedded within the leadership framework", as part of an arrangement which NAE says is a world first.

The move follows NAE integrating citizen-led panels into the decision making process for programming over the last 18 months, with them commissioning £190,000 of artistic work in the neighbourhood.


Saad Eddine Said, CEO and Artistic Director of NAE, said: “We believe in the power and necessity for citizens to lead and make a real difference. 

"It's about putting our neighbourhood at the heart of our decision-making, truly shaping our vision and strategy for the art and culture we all live with and love. 

"As the first initiative of its kind, we're eager to share this journey with others around the world and hope to spark a discourse on new structures where citizen-led decision-making is a core and permanent component of leadership in the cultural sector.”

NAE says the VOICE Assembly, which will have 40 members, will "operate in synergy with the executive team and board of trustees to create a robust leadership model". 

It adds that the envisaged structure will ensure that strategic decisions benefit from professional expertise, governing oversight, and the lived experiences of community members.

Residents in the Hyson Green area of Nottingham will receive an invitation to register their interest, with the final participants being selected by lottery. 

The assembly will run its first meeting across three sessions in late May, with participants receiving £300 for their time and efforts. 

'Innovative working'

Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England said: “It’s exciting to see our National Portfolio Organisations thinking up innovative ways of working with their communities.  

"The VOICE assembly will help New Art Exchange shape the kind of creative activities and cultural experiences people living in Hyson Green want to see and take part in. 

"I look forward to seeing how the assembly develops, helping New Art Exchange to serve their existing and future audiences even better.”