'Grand' (2008) by NE3 artist Keith Harrison

'Grand' (2008) by NE3 artist Keith Harrison

New Expressions artist commissioning scheme goes national

By Jo Clarke

19 December 2013

A programme of pioneering collaborations between artists, museums and audiences has been given the green light to go UK-wide from 2014.

Thanks to major funding support from Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts programme, New Expressions 3 (NE3) will bring together 15 museums from across England in partnership with the National Trust and the Contemporary Visual Arts Network.

As part of the programme each museum or heritage site will commission and work with an artist who will produce new work in response to the historic collections and environments they find themselves in. NE3 aims to build on the momentum established by previous New Expressions programmes in 2009 and 2011-12. As part of New Expressions 2 in 2011-12, nine major new commissions were created in the South West in Plymouth, Bristol, Cheltenham, Exeter, Barnstaple and Falmouth. The commissions were enjoyed by over 800,000 museum visitors – many of whom were new to contemporary art.

“The New Expressions programme has already proved that it can inspire powerful artworks, unlock the creative potential of museum and heritage collections, encourage participation and enrich the experience of visitors,” said Susie O’Reilly, NE3 Project Director. “NE3 will take the ambition of the programme to a new level by extending it to other regions across England and bringing in national partners like the National Trust and the Contemporary Visual Arts Network to all work together. I’m sure the end results will be amazing.”

The museums and heritage providers involved in NE3 will select, commission and work with their chosen artists throughout 2014. The programme will culminate in early summer 2015 with ‘New Expressions LIVE’ – a season of events and activities during which the artist commissions will be on public display. The museums and heritage providers are:

  • Birmingham Museums Trust
  • Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archives
  • Cumbria Museum Consortium
  • Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery (lead partner)
  • Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter
  • York Museums Trust
  • The National Trust
  • Contemporary Visual Arts Network

“New Expressions already has a considerable track record of delivering high-profile new art inspired by museum collections in the South West and we are delighted to be investing £150,000 from our National Lottery-funded Grants for the arts scheme to see the initiative develop,” said Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England. “We believe this has the potential to become a very exciting new national partnership that will develop the skills of both artists and museums and have a significant long-term impact.”

In addition to the main NE3 programme there is also an opportunity for up to ten other artist-led museum interventions in the South West, North and Midlands thanks to a ‘New Opportunities Award’ (NOA). This new scheme, awarded through open competition, will resource experimental projects between artists and museums. At least 50% of the awards will support those with little or no previous experience of this type of collaborative practice. More information about how to bid for NOA funding can be found at www.vasw.org.uk The deadline for applications will be 12pm on 17 March 2014.

Further information about each of the NE3 partners can be found here.