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Local communities set to have greater access to Wales’ national contemporary art collection

Wales’ national contemporary art collection will be displayed in communities across the country under new plans.

Establishing a National Contemporary Art Gallery is a key commitment of the Welsh Government’s Programme for Government and the Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru.

The plans include:

  • A network of galleries across Wales that will provide increased access to the national collection and bring contemporary art closer to communities.
  • Host Galleries, Amgueddfa Cymru and National Library of Wales, will continue to hold and display Wales’ national art collection.
  • An Anchor Gallery that will provide a prominent public face for the national contemporary art gallery.

The commitment is being made possible through a collaboration between the Arts Council of Wales, Amgueddfa Cymru and the National Library of Wales. The three partners have been working with different venues which are being considered as part of the dispersed network of galleries across Wales.

Nine venues across Wales have been shortlisted to be members of the network of galleries, these will be places where people can view the national collection closer to their homes. Each of the venues are now undergoing a more detailed assessment.

These are:

  • Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Aberystwyth
  • Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea
  • MOSTYN, Llandudno
  • Newport Museum & Art Gallery, Newport
  • Oriel Davies, Newtown
  • Oriel Myrddin, Carmarthen
  • Plas Glyn-y-Weddw, Pwllheli
  • Ruthin Craft Centre, Ruthin
  • STORIEL, Bangor

More detailed work will now inform a phased approach to each of the galleries potentially joining the network.

Host galleries are those which either currently host, or plan to host the national collection, and are part of the current infrastructure in Wales. They include National Museum Cardiff,  potentially the National Slate Museum in Llanberis and the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth. Their inclusion will further increase access to contemporary Welsh art.

Work is also underway to find a potential Anchor Gallery. In September 2022, 14 expressions of interest were received to become the anchor site for the National Contemporary Art Gallery. Five local authority areas – Wrexham, Swansea, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport and Cardiff – were invited to develop their plans further.

In February 2023, the third sector in Wales were also invited to submit expressions of interests for any sites that match the criteria. These expressions of interest are currently being considered.

Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Dawn Bowden said:

“The national collection belongs to everyone in Wales. The new model will allow people to explore the collection within their own communities, whilst also ensuring more people across Wales, the UK and even internationally can have improved access to the national collection.

“It will help to boost the visitor economy, support local businesses and jobs, and put Wales on the map internationally.”

 Designated Member, Sian Gwenllian, said:

“The ongoing cost-of-living crisis shows how important it is that we make our national collection of art freely accessible to people in communities across our country. Great art should be for everyone and our joint commitment to establish a National Contemporary Art Gallery is about creating greater access for all whilst showcasing our talented immensely talented artists.”

Three new appointments have also been made to take the work forward. Mandy Williams-Davies has been appointed as Independent Chair of the Project Board, Gillian Mitchell has been appointed Project Director and Ceri Jones as Creative Director.