Arts / arnolfini

New Arts Council investment for Arnolfini

By steve wright, Wednesday Sep 4, 2019

Arnolfini, Bristol’s international centre for contemporary art, and Arts Council England (ACE) have announced a major new investment of £1.8 million until 2022, which allows the gallery to present a bold new programme over the next three years.

Arnolfini relaunches as an independent charity that forms part of the University of the West of England, in a partnership that was announced in January 2019. UWE also owns Bush House, Arnolfini’s distinctive waterfront home since its founding in 1975, and the organisations will work closely together to ensure mutual benefit to artists, audiences, academics and students. Arnolfini continues to receive ongoing funding from the Ashley Clinton Barker-Mills Trust, which exists to support its work.

The decision by ACE is reflective of the vital importance of Arnolfini to contemporary and visual arts in Bristol, working with and supporting local artists and communities while also bringing the best in international artists to work and exhibit in the city. Securing the long-term future of Arnolfini as a vital centre for contemporary art, artists and a broad audience was identified as a key recommendation of the Bristol Visual Arts Review, commissioned by ACE.

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Interim director Gary Topp and head of programme Kieran Swann will deliver Arnolfini’s wide-ranging programme of artistic encounters and experiences of internationally significant art through commissioning, co-productions, partnerships and touring productions.

Arnolfini will announce its full 2020 programme in the coming months. This will include exhibitions and seasons across visual art, dance, performance, music, live and digital and feature the work of celebrated figures alongside emerging artists.

Collaboration and partnership will be at the heart of Arnolfini’s new open approach to cultural programming, working with a diverse range of organisations to create opportunities for audiences that would not otherwise exist in Bristol or the south-west. This new model allows for takeovers, short and long term residencies and relationships, hosting work by collaborating institutions and working across multiple sites and with other partners in the city.

The gallery marks its relaunch with the opening, on September 13, of Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance – Act 3, a major new exhibition enabled by existing interim ACE funding. The exhibition explores the role that women have played in the history of resistance movements, as well as alternative forms of living from a gendered perspective.

Judy Chicago, ‘Immolation IV’ (1972), which features in arnolfini’s autumn/winter exhibition ‘Still I Rise – Act 3’

Phil Gibby, Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “We are delighted to have committed £1.8 million into Arnolfini, an important part of Bristol’s cultural infrastructure. This is thanks to the hard work and expert leadership from Gary and Lhosa [Daly, Chair of Trustees] at Arnolfini and the commitment from UWE over the past eighteen months to affect fundamental change. This positive outcome directly responds to a key recommendation in the Bristol Visual Arts Review.

“We very much welcome this new period and look forward to seeing how the Arnolfini and UWE partnership develops over the next two and a half years to bring communities together in Bristol, make people proud of the city where they work and live, as well as adding to the economy by encouraging more visitors to the region to see work of international renown.”

Gary Topp, Interim Director at Arnolfini, says: “This is an important moment for Arnolfini as we build on its extraordinary history to create an organisation for the future. We will be working with many partners, artists and communities to create and share contemporary art that is relevant and powerful. We have created a new context in which to make an important contribution to the cultural life of Bristol and the region and it is a privilege to lead the organisation and work with a committed team to achieve this.”

Still I Rise – Act 3 runs from September 14-December 15. For more info, visit

Read more: Preview: Still I Rise – Act 3, Arnolfini

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