Save The ICA London


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The ICA is currently in a fight for its very survival. For over six decades the ICA has been pumping fresh blood into the veins of London’s contemporary art scene. We need to get behind this important institution, visit it regularly. and better still, join the ICA today. ArtLyst

Here are some quotes from the forum.


Ekow Eshun, Executive Director and Alan Yentob Chairman of the troubled ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art, London) will be standing down. The announcement comes as the ICA struggles to remain a financially viable institution in an environment devastated by government cuts to the arts. There has been no official explanation of the development, other than a press release posted late yesterday, stating that it was time for them to move on, now that the ICA’s future was stable. Yentob has claimed only to have hung on in there to support his director. Many still feel that the pair were responsible for the institution’s crisis, and that their parting has dragged on and on despite public pressure, including ArtLyst’s Save ICA campaign, a facebook pressure group which has nearly 3000 supporters. Hundreds have called for the resignation of the pair over the past few months. Last night, an ICA spokeswoman said Mr Eshun had not been pushed to resign, in spite of reports that his position had caused managerial friction in recent times. His departure comes only five months after a bitter staffing crisis, when employees took a confidence vote in its director.



Leaked Information From An ICA Insider:
My main problem with your group is that as the ICA is now there’s
nothing to save. Live arts have gone, the director(s) of talks have
gone, the director of visual arts has gone. There is a temporary
director of events, affectionately know as the coffin dodger. Why should
the ACE (Arts Council England) pump a regular £1.3M into the place let alone agree to the
second £600k installment of a £1.2M grant that apparently has already
been spent unbeknown to them at the time.

Yes, the ICA should be
saved but this group needs to come up with the T&C and state them.
The ICA should never be a fluffy 60 year old creature that needs
preserving forever because it’s 60 years old.

It’s laudable
you’re recommending people should join but the arrogance of those in
charge at the moment would only see that as an endorsement of themselves
(their egos are bigger than most people can imagine).


.The ICA was founded by Peter Watson, Herbert Read, Geoffrey Grigson, Mesens, and Roland Penrose in 1946 just after the second world war. The ICA’s founders wanted to establish a space where artists, writers and scientists could debate ideas outside of the traditional walls of art schools. Today we have so many arts institutions, project spaces, across the UK and overseas curating brilliant shows. Artisjustaword Aijaw

The ICA is just a space If it goes under then we have lost an excellent platform. Do we want the ICA to survive or sink? Maybe we should take direct action and write to Alan Yentob. If this forum of over 1400 believe that Artistic Director  Ekow Eshun should go It is a lobby group with actual power. Think about it and get your friends to join this group.

Wow! In less than a year their deficit ballooned to 8 times their projected figures? That’s a catastrophic mismanagement (and huge waste) of finances; a crippling failure that surely demands that Eshun and Yentob’s leadership should be investigated. Who do they answer to? Gordon Cheung

 The ICA needs someone with a vision to direct it, not somone who merely thinks he has a vision. Sometimes the ICA feels very dry and lacking in relevancy. It should be doing things like the Decode exhibit currently at V&A to engage with people and fire imaginations. The ICA is the kind of place that needs to have more character, quirkiness, an edge. It feels too safe. Manny Zambrano

  The ICA is one of the best places in the capital for young artists to launch their careers. It’s also got a really good bookshop therefore it should remain Archie Franks

  Rachel Halliburton has a big piece in this week’s Time Out, ‘RIP ICA?’. She argues that the ICA should bring back the live art programme; stop talking bullshit (‘Eshun never uses one word when he can use four, especially if one of them is ‘praxis’ and another one ‘germane’);award month-long guest artistic directorships; foster a stronger sense of community by strengthening the intellectual debate; and make the bar a cool place to be seen (and see stuff) again.  Peter Chrisp



Sorry for the late reply.I was out covering the Tony Cragg exhibition for ArtLyst.
I haven’t seen the Timeout piece. Must go out and buy it as it’s not online.I have to agree that the axing of the Live Art program was catastrophic and the first (for Me) noticeable warning of the ICA’s downhill slide. I think like many I have been blinded by too many, unnecessary and somewhat pretentious words from Eshun. Sometimes you just want to like a person and give them a chance, but perhaps 5 years is more than enough of a window in a position like Artistic Director to prove themselves. Maybe in the future 5 years should be the limit of any appointment.

  we londoners do not appreciate what we have, why do we let the men in grey suits plunder everything? Oliver Conway

Maybe if Hans Ulrich Obrist steps into the ICA it would have a chance to survive  Artisjustaword Aijaw


If someone would like to write an article. I would love to post it on the ArtLyst blog. It will reach a large audience. I think many of us are in the dark about the goings on at the ICA.

Here is a useful link from the Guardian.I hope this information helps clear up some of the questions about why we formed this group.

ArtLyst Paul Carter Robinson ICA Fundraiser Gala 2010:
Wednesday night’s annual fundraising gala and helped raise £200,000. Silver-tongued auctioneer, Simon de Pury took to the
floor and seamlessly coaxed the fabulous figure of £152,000 from guests
for original artworks – ten pairs of beautifully crafted porcelain vases
donated by Thomas Goode, all individually decorated especially for the
ICA by world-renowned artists: Marc Quinn, Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley,
Shezad Dawood, Peter Blake, Michael Craig-Martin, Jake and Dinos
Chapman, Keith Tyson, Julian Opie and Gavin Turk.

ArtLyst Paul Carter Robinson Small Meeting in ICA Bar tonight. Productive with lots of ideas put forward. Will reveal all soon. Plan larger, open meeting in about 2,weeks time. If you are interested in attending Please let me know (leave facebook message) and watch this space.

Florence Stewart Dig beneath the surface and there is a lot more going on than just the recession and a “perfect storm”. Eshun has, in my opinion, manage to undo sixty years of cultural history in little more than a year through his lack of experience, unsound business mind and desperate need for self-promotion. The ICA said goodbye to a lot of experienced and valued staff this month – good luck to every single one of them.


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