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As an artist living and working in Nottingham I've been pretty excited
about the prospect of having a decent contemporary art venue on my
doorstep since I first heard news of the development of the 'Nottingham
Contemporary' art space.
I've shamefully had my head stuck in
the sand doing commercial artwork until recently and have not been
involved or even much aware of the planning or development of this
project over the past few years, but I do know that it involves a lot
of public money both locally and nationally so I presume as a tax
contributor and artist that I do have a stake in this space. I've been
excited to find all the online tools being used to promote Nottingham
Contemporary - a well presented website with RSS feed, a Facebook
presence etc. This all looks so promising.
But a few concerns
have begun to trouble me about NC as we approach the venue's official
opening date on 14th November 2009. I am aware of the local controversy
regarding costs, but I have also recently been involved in
conversations with a few city based artists and interested residents
who were around at the very start of the project and attended public
meetings about the plans and mission for this space, as well as
attempting to engage the Director and board with their concerns. They
sadly report a much more worrying outlook for the role of this venue
with regard to its relationship (or lack of) with artists and creatives
in Nottingham, as opposed to those being brought in from the wider
national and international art scenes to exhibit.Being a project
heavily funded with public money (a large percentage coming from
Nottingham City Council Tax), I would expect at least a partial role of
this major new institution to be with the promotion of artists actually
living in Nottingham, alongside artists from the wider contemporary
scene. But my associates report that this may not necessarily be the
We know that the building development for NC is
excessively over it's initial budget, naturally raising concerns as to
the appropriateness of how public money has been spent. It's all too
easy (and remember I'm an artist who is excited about this) to suspect
that certain individuals and companies involved in the development will
have already profited quite handsomely before it even opens. If, then,
it isn't really going to establish and nurture creative links with
local artists alongside their international contemporaries then I have
to question what the project is really about and how Nottingham is
really going to benefit from it.
But I'm a concerned individual
without very much information at this time, and this is my real reason
for raising this discussion. I am essentially looking to gather as many
facts and views as I can about NC, what it is intended to be and how it
has been conceived. Some of this I can infer from those associated with
the project and my various web searches, but some appears to be
somewhat sketchy in nature. I will be making enquiries to the Board and
Director directly, but before I do this I really want to hear
information and views (both positive and dissenting).
So please, help me understand more about this venue and what it's really all about.
Dan has created a Facebook group for the debate to take place.