Written statement: The development of the National Contemporary Art Gallery for Wales (July 19, 2022)

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The development of a National Gallery of Contemporary Art for Wales is a key commitment of our Government Agenda 2021-6 and co-operation agreement with Plaid Cymru. This statement informs Members of the next steps in its development.

I am grateful for the work undertaken so far, thanks to the collaboration between the Arts Council of Wales, the National Library of Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru. Good progress has been made in digitizing works in the National Collection – by the end of June 2022, 6,210 works had been photographed and 8,095 digital assets, including reverse images. Development of the online gallery is also accelerating, with early developments focusing on mobile and desktop websites.

Building on initial work undertaken by Event and later by the Rural Office of Architecture (ROA), a dispersed model for the National Contemporary Art Gallery is being developed as a critical first phase, consisting of a number of locations across Wales. This geographically dispersed model will allow greater access to contemporary art to communities in Wales, bringing art closer to the people of Wales.

Confidential discussions continue with sites to determine their readiness to participate in the dispersed model; the timeframe and level of resources required. Up to 10 sites are currently under consideration. A phased approach will be taken to set up the network of galleries across Wales and further announcements on progress will be made in the autumn.

We are also exploring the potential for an anchor site, which would provide a dedicated and permanent place, where objects from the national collection are displayed and accessible throughout the year and where the best of contemporary Welsh art and international can be presented, experienced and created. .

Work has begun to identify this anchor site. As a first step, in line with our policy approach, we have invited public sector property managers across Wales, through the Ystadau Cymru Board, to identify potential locations or land for an anchor site . This request for candidate sites will be posted later this month, with responses requested by August 31. Potential sites will be screened against the defined criteria and all sites that closely match the criteria will be shortlisted for further assessment work.

The project partners will soon take a series of appointments to advance this work. The key appointment of a project director to lead the creative thinking, design and development of the exhibition and to work with partner galleries across the distributed network will be a priority.

The National Contemporary Art Gallery Steering Group has been working during the pandemic to digitize the collection’s assets as a basis for carrying out several digital projects to entertain and educate, or to support NHS staff and patients. These were developed under the Celf ar y Cyd banner and included:

  • Art 100 Celf – an interactive digital platform, which featured on Instagram, Amgueddfa Cymru website and AM platform. These 100 works kicked off a nationwide tour of venues across Wales.
  • Art in hospitals, which allowed staff to choose images for field hospitals and vaccination centers during the pandemic.
  • Artists react to the present – a short series of creative commissions have been created for new contemporary art.
  • The Springboard Collection (Cynfas) has allowed diverse voices to discuss the national collection in magazine form during the pandemic.

We will collaborate more broadly with the visual arts community in the development of the National Gallery of Contemporary Art.

This statement is issued during the holidays to keep members informed. If any members would like me to make a further statement or answer questions on this when the Senedd returns, I would be happy to do so.

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