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Art Fund Opens £600,000 Funding Scheme to Build New Collections of Art throughout the UK
Ellsworth Kelly studio visit. ©J Shear, 2009. Photo: Art Fund International.

LONDON.- As part of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation’s 50th birthday celebrations, it has generously awarded the Art Fund with a grant of £600,000 for the creation of new collections in museums and galleries throughout the UK. Sitting at the heart of the Art Fund’s grant-giving which annually awards £3.5 million a year to help build public collections, the scheme is a response to the need for more investment in, and support for, the building of new collections across the country.
Calls for applications open today, 20 June 2011.

RENEW aims to build future centres of excellence by supporting fresh areas of collecting of fine, decorative or applied art in museums and galleries. It will provide 100% funding to up to six museums that are accepted onto the scheme.

RENEW aims are to:

• stimulate new curatorial approaches to collecting and the growth of collections

• encourage a collecting perspective which creates opportunities for collaboration and knowledge and resource sharing between departments and institutions

• ensure museums and galleries are engaging fully with the particularities of their collections, curatorial expertise, location and the communities they serve

• enable a strategic and energetic approach collecting despite the current public funding climate

By encouraging creative proposals for such collections, the Art Fund expects applications which deliver demonstrable public benefit and contribute to the long-term vitality of collecting.

Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, said: “RENEW provides a unique opportunity at a difficult time for museums and galleries across the UK to invest for the long term health of their collections by opening up new areas, approaches and partnerships. We are very proud as part of our 50th birthday celebrations to be supporting the Art Fund on this innovative initiative.”

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said: “The generous gift from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation will drive this really innovative scheme to encourage new kinds of collecting in UK museums and galleries. I can't wait to see the results."

The Art Fund has a history of helping museums and galleries to build entirely new collections alongside its ongoing work to support the acquisition of single works of art of outstanding importance. In 2010 it gave £100,000 to the V&A and British Museum to create a joint collection of Middle Eastern Photography. And between 2007 and 2012, it is investing £5 million in Art Fund International; a scheme that is helping 5 regional museum-partnerships to establish outstanding collections of contemporary and international art.

In the five decades since the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation was established, it has channelled over £400 million into the arts, education, the environment and social welfare. The Foundation remains true to the vision of its founders, Ian and Esmée Fairbairn, to support civil society and work with organisations who can deliver sustained benefits to individuals, communities and society as a whole. The Foundation’s previous support for the Art Fund includes funding for the Enriching Regions scheme which set out to identify and assist those UK regions where museum collecting presented exceptionally tough challenges such as Northern Ireland, East and West Midlands and the East of England.

Application process
The Art Fund is looking for applications that will enable museums of all kinds to take new approaches to collecting high quality works which connect or develop their existing collections, or stimulate new areas of collecting – in unexpected, ambitious, creative but relevant ways. Collections can encompass fine, decorative or applied art from any period, in any media and from a variety of sources and could be thematic, geographic or focus on a specific medium – any clearly defined collecting area will be considered. The Art Fund will consider site-specific works, commissions and possibly temporary installations. Proposals which cross different specialisms in order to broaden the relevance of the museum’s collections as a whole will also be welcomed.

RENEW will be rolled out over a two year period following a selection process over the summer and autumn of 2011. Between June and July 2011, applications will be accepted from institutions that are eligible for Art Fund support, including public museums, galleries, historic houses, libraries and archives with permanent collections. Applying institutions must be open for at least half the week for at least 6 months of the year and have provisional or full accreditation with the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. Successful institutions will be notified in early September with the aim that the first tranche of acquisitions approved in the autumn.

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