Decade of Diminished Funding Puts UK Museums at Risk

In further news: Jef Geys (1934–2018); and Hirshhorn postpones Krzysztof Wodiczko projection after Florida shooting

Rachel Whiteread, Untitled (100 Spaces), 1995, Resin, Pinault Collection.Photo: Tate Britain

Rachel Whiteread, Untitled (100 Spaces), 1995. Courtesy: Tate Britain

Rachel Whiteread, Untitled (100 Spaces), 1995. Courtesy: Tate Britain, London

A report on the state of UK museums, led by historian David Cannadine and commissioned for the Art Fund and Wolfson Foundation, calls on the government to increase its funding to cultural institutions. Titled ‘Why Collect?’ the document outlines how public funding to museums has decreased by 13% in real terms over the last decade, from GBP£829m in 2007 to GBP£720m in 2017. The shortfall has not been met by other sources, and the report says there is little end in sight for this austerity in museum investment. ‘Prices have been inflated to stratospheric levels by the advent of new billionaire purchasers from China, Russia, South Asia and the Middle East’, the author goes on to say, claiming that: ‘pressures and expectations placed on museums and galleries by both national and local government’ have never been greater. Stephen Deuchar, director of Art Fund, said that Cannadine’s ‘concerns over the lack of public investment in the growth and care of our nation’s collections, and in the people responsible for them, should be heeded.’ And Maria Balshaw, director of Tate, commented: ‘It is vital that we have the resources to collect and care for works of the highest calibre. We need to be able to tell both a global and local story for generations to come and to provide powerful impetus for future creativity.’ The report can be viewed here.

Laura Raicovich, who quit as president and executive director of New York’s Queens Museum in January over differences between the board and her political commitments, has responded to an investigation by the museum which alleges that she misled the board. Raicovich says the report 'further illustrates the misalignment between me and the board of the Queens Museum and the reasons I chose to resign. I never participated in misleading the board and the decision to resign was entirely my own’. See our full report here.

Los Angeles’s Hammer Museum has announced artists for its biennial ‘Made in L.A. 2018’ which will celebrate local artists, running from 3 June to 2 September 2018. The exhibition, now in its fourth edition, is curated by Anne Ellegood and Erin Christovale. Director Ann Philbin commented: ‘“Made in L.A. 2018” underscores that Los Angeles is a uniquely creative nexus where artists from all over the world connect across generations, disciplines, and backgrounds.’ The full list of participants, including Neha Choksi, Linda Stark and Daniel Joseph Martinez, can be viewed here.

Belgian conceptual artist Jef Geys has passed away at the age of 83. Geys was born in 1934 in Leopoldsburg, Limburg. He later studied in Antwerp, and then based himself in Balen, De Kempen, for much of his career, where he also taught at a local primary school. The eccentric artist is perhaps best known for his response to an invitation to exhbit at Antwerp’s Royal Academy of the Fine Arts in 1970 when he sent a letter to museum and city officials threatening to blow up the institution. Geys represented Belgium at the 2009 Venice Biennale with his Quadra Medicinale project.

BBC Two’s second season of its arts television series Front Row will be presented by Cambridge classicist Mary Beard. The television adaption of the Radio 4 show will be broadcast later in the spring. Beard takes over from Giles Coren, Nikki Bedi and Amol Rajan who led the first season – Coren’s selection for the inaugural season was controversial, given his admission in interview that he had ’not been to the theatre much in the past six or seven years’. Beard commented of the forthcoming series: ‘I think I can promise that it will be edgy, from the heart and from the head!’

In gallery news: Los Angeles’s Moran Bondaroff gallery has been renamed Moran Moran, following the resignation of cofounder and former partner Aaron Bondaroff after allegations of sexual misconduct made against him; Los Angeles’s M+B Gallery now represents painter Rob Thom, with a solo exhibition opening in September 2018; Galeria Nara Roesler (São Paulo, New York City, Rio de Janeiro) now represents the estate of Léon Ferrari; New York’s Rachel Uffner has added Maryam Hoseini, Arcmanoro Niles, Curtis Santiago, Sally Saul and Molly Zuckerman-Hartung.

In awards news: Olaf Nicolai has been awarded the Wilhelm Loth Prize by the city of Darmstadt which comes with a EUR€12,000 award; Berlin's Academy of Arts has named Adrian Piper as the recipient of the 2018 Käthe Kollwitz Prize which comes with a cash prize of EUR€12,000; Aspen Art Museum has announced Rashid Johnson as the recipient of the 2018 Aspen Award for Art; and Kapwani Kiwanga has been named winner of the Frieze Artist Award, supported by the Luma Foundation. Kiwanga receives a budget of up to USD$30,000 and will realize her artwork at Frieze New York 2018.

And after the tragic shooting at a school in Florida this Wednesday, in which at least 17 people died, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., has postponed its restaging of Krzysztof Wodiczko's Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC, 1988-2000. The monumental projection was set to be shown for the first time since it premiered 30 years ago, projected across the exterior of the museum: the works features an image of hands holding a gun. ‘Our hearts go out to the victims and families of today’s tragedy in Florida. Out of respect for those affected, and in sensitivity to our public, the Hirshhorn and artist Krzysztof Wodiczko will no longer be projecting his artwork on the exterior of the building,’ the museum said, adding that it would be shown at a later date. 

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