Outset Partners Announce Support For Cultural Infrastructure Beyond Pandemic

Emma Nicholson’s commission of Keg de Souza Outset

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the Serpentine Galleries, have been jointly awarded a transformational Grant of £150,000 for their collaborative work on ecology. 32° East (Ugandan Arts Trust), Beit Ha’Gefen, the International Curator’s Forum, Liverpool Biennial, Nottingham Contemporary and The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto have also been awarded Impact Grants totalling £125,000 in the Outset Partners’ 2020 round of grant-giving.

In the face of extraordinary uncertainty, artists, galleries, and museums have reached out and offered moments of connection – Candida Gertler

Now in their second year of grants, the Outset Partners award £275,000 annually, with a fundraising aim of over £1 million from private philanthropists, allocated over a five-year funding programme to support transformational projects led by public institutions. Funds directed by ten individual Outset Partners, through a consensus-driven process. Up to five additional Partners are welcome for future rounds.

outsetOutset Contemporary Art Fund, the leading international philanthropic enterprise, has announced the recipients of seven grants in a significant arts funding programme from its accelerator unit, Outset Partners. The initiative is in its second year, awarding grants totalling £275,000 across a range of agenda-setting museums, galleries and organizations – both within the UK and internationally – to support challenging new art projects with a demonstrable transformative aspect for the creative ecosystem. Drawing on Outset’s seventeen years of expertise in catalytic arts philanthropy, Outset Partners recognizes that public art institutions are in a position of responsibility to address changes in society yet often face a gap in funding to realize their most ambitious visions for the future.

The central tenet of Outset Partners is one of the responsive philanthropy that adapts to the ever-changing needs of the cultural ecosystem. As the disruptive effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the arts became increasingly clear, Partners made a conscious decision not to divert grant funding into short-term crisis relief, but to continue the process set in motion in early January to secure the future of these innovative projects. Outset is working to offer crisis support for the cultural ecosystem through the Studiomakers initiative – aiding artists and affordable workspace providers who are struggling with reduced operations. The Partners want to ensure that institutional ambitions for transformation catalyzed by this moment of reflection can be translated into reality, once the immediate Covid-19 crisis has passed.

The one-of-a-kind Transformative Grant is designed to allow a significant project to radically re-think the art institution of the future. £150,000 is awarded jointly to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the Serpentine Galleries. 2020 marks the 350th anniversary of The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and the 50th of the Serpentine Galleries. After an introduction by Outset Partners, these institutions have decided to work together on a series of initiatives founded on the principles of skills exchange and collaboration. This will include the joint convening of a new network and think-tank of organizations, General Ecology Network, dedicated to innovative thinking at the intersections of art and ecology.

A statement from Candida Gertler OBE, Co-founder, Director & Trustee, Outset Contemporary Art Fund, on behalf of the Outset Partners: “In these uncertain times, it is notable that the areas that have really proven supportive, generous, and open across all borders are the sciences and the arts. We have seen artists, institutions, and platforms make content freely available in an unprecedented way. In the face of extraordinary uncertainty, artists, galleries, and museums have reached out and offered moments of connection and of reflection on the future beyond this time of crisis. Outset Partners felt compelled to act in a manner that echoes this spirit of generosity, by offering an injection of support and confidence in the future of the projects that were submitted to our open call. Across the broad span of projects the Outset Partners have chosen to award grants to this year, there is an ongoing consideration of timely and meaningful sensitivities surrounding community support, social welfare, public space, and ecology. Our hope is that through sharing the news of our funding of these projects and inspiring the creative network behind them, we might offer a moment to look forward, and to anticipate the outcome of outstanding projects and work that is still to come. We invite you to celebrate the start of these journeys this week, together at the Outset.”

Outset Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

The Transformative Grant was jointly awarded to Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in support of ‘Climate House’, and the Serpentine Galleries, London, in support of ‘Back to Earth’.A message from each of the institutions regarding their project: – ‘CLIMATE HOUSE’, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, UK. This new award has played a role in allowing Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh to reimagine Inverleith House as a gallery for the 21st century, ignite a new arts strategy across the Garden and to highlight RBGE as a visionary institution within the Climate Crisis. ‘Climate House’ will highlight the global risk to biodiversity through an immersive installation, activated as a space for conversation and action created in collaboration with Australian artist Keg de Souza, who has previously had significant exhibitions in Melbourne, New York, Vancouver and London. Keg de Souza is known for her socially engaged art practice, using mediums such as inflatable and temporary architecture, food, video, text, illustration, mapping and dialogical projects to explore the politics of space.

Collaboration is central to de Souza’s practice and the new vision for Inverleith House which has hosted exhibitions from artists including Andy Warhol, Louise Bourgeois, Andy Goldsworthy, and Karla Black. ‘Climate House’ will inspire connections between artists, scientists, horticulturalists, scholars, activists, entrepreneurs, policymakers and visitors and local communities. Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Emma Nicolson, Head of Creative Programmes, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, said: “To receive the Outset Partners’ Transformative Grant, in partnership with the Serpentine Galleries, presents a momentous opportunity to focus on the desperate nature of our planet’s plight. Working with artists, scientists and horticulturists, the Outset Partners and Serpentine colleagues will help us reimagine our approach, provide visibility and advocacy to our new ambitions, and enable us to think and work differently, reflecting upon one of the most urgent concerns of our age.”

‘BACK TO EARTH’, Serpentine Galleries, London, UK Back to Earth, a new, multidisciplinary and multi-year initiative, is the Serpentine Galleries’ 50th-anniversary project. Launching in 2020, Back to Earth invites over sixty-five artists and creative practitioners to respond to the current climate emergency with forward-thinking and strategic artworks that are simultaneously environmental campaigns.

Over the coming years, Back to Earth will collaborate with partner organizations to realize an ambitious artist-led programme, that will include exhibitions, live events, publications, broadcasts, off-site and infrastructural projects, as well as public-awareness campaigns. In addition, Back to Earth is conceived as the catalyst for a series of internal transformations within the entire Serpentine organization, to embed ecological principles within the very fabric of the Galleries. The Serpentine is artist-led to its core. To that end, Back to Earth encourages these transformations also to be driven by the imagination that artists bring to our everyday life and to the way we work.

Karrabing Film Collective, The Mermaids, or Aiden in Wonderland (still) Five additional Impact Grants of £20,000 each are awarded to public institutions for a range of projects that demonstrate crucial areas of support for the public, artists and curators. In line with the Outset ethos these can be through enabling innovative exhibitions and artistic productions with an international reach; empowering educational initiatives or providing professional development opportunities; institutions enriching public collections; or projects that enhance the creative infrastructure through providing workspaces and strengthening communities.

The 2020 Impact Grants are awarded to the following projects: – ‘A NEW HOME FOR 32 DEGREES EAST’, 32* East (Ugandan Arts Trust), Kampala, Uganda ‘Outset has a tremendous legacy of championing ambitious projects, and being truly incisive with its impact; for those reasons and more, we are thrilled to collaborate with Outset Partners on our journey to realize Uganda’s first purpose-built, non-profit contemporary art centre. Outset Partners’ energy and commitment to this campaign has been palpable from the moment we first connected, and we have a shared belief in the transformative impact this centre will have on the region. We are so honoured to be a part of their new chapter of supporting work on the African continent.’

Concept image for the new 32 Degrees East, Architects New Makers Bureau   – ‘THE THIRD SPACE’, Beit Ha’Gefen Gallery, Haifa, Israel  The Third Space is an art and education lab of Beit Ha’Gefen – Arab-Jewish Cultural Center in Haifa. (Curators: Yael Messer and Hadas Zemer Ben-Ari). Aiming to provide tools for addressing complexities in today’s intercultural society, The Third Space offers experiential activities that integrate artworks and discursive elements into a layered learning scenario. ‘The innovative, independent, and empowerment-focused ethos of the Outset Partners Impact Grant resonates with our vision and our goals with The Third Space. Thanks to the Grant, we will be able to develop educational workshops for both Hebrew and Arab speaking groups.’

32º East Arts Centre

Broken Fingaz at the Third Space, Haifa. Credit: Yona Preminger – ‘DIASPORA PAVILION II’ International Curator’s Forum, International As part of the 2018 Outset Partners Grants, the International Curators Forum (ICF) was awarded £25,000 per annum for three years towards the development and execution of the Diaspora Pavilion 2 project. After a year of research and development, including two artists’ trips to the openings of the 2019 Venice and Istanbul Biennials, ICF has curated the first Diaspora Pavilion 2 exhibition in partnership with 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art in Sydney, Australia titled I am a heart beating in the world: Diaspora Pavilion 2, Sydney. The exhibition presents the navigations, imaginings and lived experiences of diasporic subjectivities through the works of six artists based in Australia, the UK and Caribbean: Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Kashif Nadim Chaudry, Lindy Lee, Leyla Stevens, Zadie Xa and Daniela Yohannes.

‘STEPHEN’, Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool, UK – Liverpool Biennial is delighted to receive an Outset Partners Impact Grant for Melanie Manchot’s first feature film STEPHEN. The commission is a hybrid drama-documentary, presenting alternative and nuanced perspectives to re-think urgent social issues of addictions, loneliness and mental health, challenging many societies around the world. This headline film commission brings together the life of its Liverpudlian protagonist and recovering addict, Stephen Giddings, and the life of a historic gambling addict Thomas Goudie.

The production will span four years, beginning with a series of workshops held in Liverpool with people in recovery and culminating with pop-up screenings of the final film for vulnerable people exposed to addictions, with a focus on young and hard-to-reach audiences. The commission will unfold as a performative intervention during the 11th edition in 2021, a world premiere cinematic screening in Liverpool in 2022, and a sculptural installation of the work at the 12th Liverpool Biennial in 2023. STEPHEN is supported by new academic research in partnership with University of Liverpool, presenting critical alternative voices, contesting stereotyped language and vilification of this often- misunderstood social issue. We are thrilled to receive this Outset Partners Impact Grant in the early stages of this commission. Heightened by the radical uncertainty that we are experiencing, the issues of social isolation and addiction gain further significance. We are excited that with the generous support of the Art Fund, the film will join the Walker Art Gallery’s collection, part of the National Museums in Liverpool.

‘LINA BO BARDI: AN IMPOSSIBLE REALITY’, Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, UK. This ambitious project, a collaboration between Nottingham Contemporary and Turner Prize-winning design collective, Assemble, is to reimagine an unrealized playground across two galleries at Nottingham Contemporary. Inspired by Lina Bo Bardi’s now-famous drawing of an unbuilt 1962 design for a utopian playground, this project will realize two large-scale play sculptures from the original illustration. At a moment when most playgrounds appear to be designed for the kinds of play that adults like to see children do, this project will challenge the confines of the gallery space and its uses. It will try to open up new ways of being in the museum, for children and adults alike.

Outset Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto
Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto

Illustration of the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, 1959-1968, Lina Bo Bardi – ‘ARCTIC/AMAZON’, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto, Canada The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto is thrilled that Outset Partners has decided to support our Fall 2020 exhibition, Arctic/Amazon. In these times of uncertainty, such good news is encouraging and deeply appreciated. Drawing upon an ongoing collaborative project, Arctic/Amazon explores how Indigenous contemporary artists address issues of climate change, globalized Indigeneity, and political contact zones in and about the circumpolar Arctic and Amazonia. By addressing Indigenous knowledge, spiritual practices, violence, and ecological concerns in a variety of media, artists confront the global project. They represent a set of diverse realities that are shaped by both human and non-human beings. By negotiating their co-existence in a world marked by the diversity of places and people, they offer insight into the frequently chaotic entanglements that emerge between themselves and the newcomers.

Top Photo: Emma Nicholson’s commission of Keg de Souza © Outset

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