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Nottingham Contemporary - can anyone enlighten me?

Guest blogger - Daniel Rose -

@DanielRoseArt on Twitter

Danroseart-AVATAR 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 case.

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.

"Nottingham Contempory" free discussion group