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Art-world outcry at proposed funding cuts for Walsall’s New Art Gallery

Plus: France to join protocol to protect cultural heritage in war zones | Pearson to offer Art History A-level | Helsinki rejects Guggenheim proposal | and Museum Ludwig awards 2017 Wolfgang Hahn Prize to Trisha Donnelly

1 December 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Art-world figures protest potential closure of Walsall’s New Art Gallery | Leading art-world figures including Grayson Perry, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Iwona Blazwick have signed a letter to the Guardian protesting proposed funding cuts to Walsall’s New Art Gallery that some fear may lead to the institution’s closure. As previously reported here, Walsall council has proposed to cut all funding to the Caruso St John designed gallery, leaving it entirely dependent on Arts Council subsidy. Without the backing of the local council, it is believed that the New Art Gallery will be pronounced ‘unviable’ and therefore ineligible for further funding. The letter’s 35 signatories express ‘deep concern’ for the future of the gallery, and say that a closure would be a ‘devastating blow’ to the local community. The council is due to make a final decision regarding the gallery on 23 February 2017.

France to join protocol to protect cultural heritage in war zones | Yesterday the French government announced its intention to ratify the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in Armed Conflicts, an initiative adopted under UNESCO’s auspices in 1999. Though France initially rejected the protocol, the wave of destruction to heritage sites in the Middle East by ISIS has provoked a turnaround, says The Art Newspaper. The protocol requires signatories to adhere to a strict set of rules regarding the use of military force in heritage sites and specifies ‘special immunity’ for a number of ‘exceptional places’, including the Taj Mahal and Windsor Castle. The commitment was made on the eve of an international conference about cultural property in war zones convened by France and the United Arab Emirates.

Pearson to offer Art History A-level | Following exam board AQA’s controversial decision to axe its A-level in Art History, educational publisher Pearson has announced it will start offering the subject for teaching from autumn 2017. Rod Bristow, president of Pearson’s UK arm, said he was ‘pleased’ to have secured the future of the ‘important’ qualification. ‘The response from the public, from teachers and from young people shows many people have a real passion for these subjects. We’re happy to help make sure they remain available.’ Culture minister Matt Hancock said he was ‘thrilled’ at Pearson’s decision.

Helsinki rejects Guggenheim proposal | After months of uncertainty surrounding plans for a satellite of the Guggenheim museum in Helsinki, the city’s council members have voted to reject the proposal, citing ‘excessive cost for the Finnish taxpayer’. In a final vote, the troubled project was rejected with 53 council members opposing and 32 in favour. According to Artforum, dozens of people gathered to protest the plans for the museum just hours before the City Council’s meeting began.

Museum Ludwig awards 2017 Wolfgang Hahn Prize to Trisha Donnelly | Cologne’s Museum Ludwig has named American artist Trisha Donnelly as winner of its 2017 Wolfgang Hahn Prize. The award, created to recognise the work of artists who ‘have not gained the attention they deserve’, grants its winner a solo exhibition at the museum, as well as a guarantee that the institution will purchase one of their works. Jury member Suzanne Cotter described Donnelly as ‘one of the most compelling artists of our time’.

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