Bristol’s Arnolfini Appoints Claire Doherty As New Director




The Board of Trustees at Arnolfini have announced that Claire Doherty has been appointed as the new Director, following the departure of Kate Brindley in December 2016. The gallery undertook a rigorous selection process to identify a new Director to lead the organisation through its next phase of rejuvenation. Doherty is currently the Director and Founder of Situations – one of the UK’s foremost producers of public art projects. 

I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to lead Arnolfini’s next chapter –  Claire Doherty

“Ms Doherty is an inspiring leader, both visionary and entrepreneurial, and has excited us with her ideas for a vibrant future for Arnolfini”, Chair of the Arnolfini Board of Trustees, Anna Southall declared.  Following a period of consolidation, we are entering a new phase of creative expansion.  We are confident that Claire is the right person to lead this renewal, and we are all looking forward to working with her, she added.

As leader and founder of Situations, Claire has spent 15 years spearheading dynamic new approaches to arts in the public realm, engaging those for whom the arts might have seemed irrelevant or inaccessible. Projects such as Theaster Gates’ Sanctum have caught the public’s imagination and garnered critical acclaim for their bold, cross-art form visions. Claire is a leading advocate for the role arts can play in the future of our cities, having authored public art and creative strategies for the cities of Melbourne, Plymouth and Oslo. Her writings have become set texts for curators, artists, academics and cities across the world. In 2016, Claire was appointed MBE for her Services to the Arts in the South West.

Kerstin Mogull, Managing Director, Tate Modern commented: This is a very exciting appointment for Arnolfini. Clare’s intimate understanding of the heritage of Arnolfini and the role that culture plays in a dynamic city like Bristol will be a huge asset to the arts and cultural ecology in the region. It can only add to building the fantastic reputation the city has internationally as a ground-breaker and innovator. We wish Arnolfini and Claire much good fortune in the coming years and look forward to experiencing the creative fruits of this new arrangement.

The appointment of Doherty comes at a crucial time of change and transformation within the arts sector as arts organisations move into a new phase of funding negotiations with Arts Council England and at Local Authority level this summer; both of which are dominated by stringent public sector cuts.

Doherty’s statement about her appointment added: I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to lead Arnolfini’s next chapter in Bristol – a city which is truly a crucible of brave, new ideas and creative talent. Across the UK, this is a moment of profound change for our cultural infrastructure as we face the economic and societal challenges ahead. We are already seeing new models of collaboration, leadership and openness emerge and brave new types of arts organisation which are responding to the interests and needs of artists and audiences in more relevant ways. I’m excited about the prospect of Arnolfini playing a major part in these developments, drawing on its considerable history, as we go forward with an emboldened, new vision.

Since 1961 Arnolfini has been a space maker for artistic practice and free-thinking, presenting a rich and eclectic programme of interdisciplinary, contemporary work in the visual arts, performance, dance, film, music and events and accompanied by an inclusive programme of learning and participation activities. Arnolfini, a registered education charity, continues to play a significant role in shaping arts practice and thinking both in Bristol and internationally by presenting important exhibitions by emerging, established and celebrated artists and offering over 450,000 visitors per year access to art and artists in a free space for participation, inspiration and reflection.

Selected as one of finalists for Art Fund’s Museum of the Year 2016, the judges’ citation described Arnolfini as a cultural lynchpin… a space for all, which offers an outstanding, ambitious and bold artistic programme of the highest quality, and that has a deep-rooted connection and dedication to local and international audiences. On the occasion of its 50thanniversary in 2011, Sir Nicholas Serota, current Chair of Arts Council England and former director of Tate Modern described Arnolfini as ‘One of a handful of the most significant contemporary cultural centres in Europe’.

Set within the fantastic waterside location and cultural quarter at the heart of Bristol’s harbourside within a Grade II* historic building, Arnolfini boasts several galleries and an award-winning café/bar and shop, Arnolfini offers residents and visitors a place to enjoy art and special events with friends and family. Arnolfini is a registered charity, core funded by Arts Council England and in receipt of regular funding from Bristol City Council. www.arnolfini.org.uk  @ArnolfiniArts


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