Golden Thread Gallery,the MAC, both in Belfast and the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) Derry-Londonderry, have been chosen by Tate to join Plus Tate, the contemporary visual arts network, which is expanding by sixteen institutions.
They join the original cohort of eighteen partners, plus the four Tate galleries, to double the size of the group. In 2010, Plus Tate was launched with the objective to share collections and expertise and build a network which would use Tate’s resources to strengthen the contemporary visual arts ecology in the UK. The expansion comes in the wake of the Warwick Commission Report which highlighted the importance of building strong arts organisations outside of London.
Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented; “The Arts Council commends Golden Thread Gallery, the Mac and the Centre for Contemporary Art, in being chosen to join this prestigious programme based on their shared quality, vision and commitment. This exciting and impressive initiative offers these leading Northern Ireland galleries the opportunity to expand, network and strengthen the contemporary arts sector within the region for all to enjoy.”
The decision to extend the Plus Tate network was announced in September 2014 and applications were received through an open process in which premium was placed on a strong artistic vision, a focus on contemporary art, outstanding public programming and a commitment to local community engagement through art.
Hugh Mulholland, Curator of the MAC in Belfast said: “Being included in Plus Tate …affords us the opportunity to become an active contributor to the well-established network of other galleries who already make up Plus Tate and who share our desire to be part of the national and international discourse around contemporary visual art practice.”
Matt Packer, Director of CCA in Derry, commented; “We are delighted to have been selected to become part of the Plus Tate network on the basis CCA’s exhibitions and public programmes. CCA is a collaborative organisation at heart, and we welcome the opportunity to further connect Derry~Londonderry with other leading contemporary arts organisations across the UK. “
Peter Richards, Chief Executive, states “Joining the many excellent organisations in the Plus Tate network is a great commendation for the Golden Thread Gallery and highlights its value to Belfast and Northern Ireland’s cultural sector. The Plus Tate Programme offers the GTG an exciting opportunity to expand its network nationally and to further develop its learning and partnerships that will be beneficial to the Northern Irish arts infrastructure as a whole. Working in partnership to better serve the region is at the heart of GTG’s mission now and into the future.”
The Plus Tate network will now have greater geographic spread across the UK with three new venues being added in Northern Ireland, one in Scotland and one in Wales. Three London venues have also been added.
Tate Director, Sir Nicholas Serota said: “Expanding the network will significantly change Plus Tate’s texture. These are all organisations that contribute to their local community but which have a national profile. The larger network will bring different kinds of experience into the pool and facilitate greater cooperation between partners.”
The original cohort of eighteen Plus Tate partners is visited by over 3.5 million people every year, employs over 500 full time staff and has an annual turnover of £34 million. Research published in January, Plus Tate: Connecting Art to People and Places, revealed the significant regenerative and economic benefits of these organisations. Plus Tate has attracted collaborative funding in recent years such as that from JP Morgan for a national Plus Tate Learning Programme and £5 million from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to create Circuit, a peer-led programme for young people.
The enlarged Plus Tate group will meet together for the first time in July 2015 to set the agenda for the next phase of development to 2020.