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Ed Vaizey unveils new vision for UK culture

Plus: Max Hollein appointed director of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco | Major redevelopment for St Peter’s Seminary | Stolen artefacts returned to Italy | Export bar for Robert the Bruce’s seal | UK museums acquire important video art

23 March 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

UK’s first culture white paper in 50 years published | UK culture minister Ed Vaizey has unveiled the country’s first culture white paper in half a century. The new vision for arts and culture in Great Britain, according to Vaizey, ‘is not a revolution but an evolution,’ building on Wilson-era culture minister Jennie Lee’s assertion that ‘the best must be made more widely available’. Key points are a new cultural citizens programme, which aims to promote the arts in 70 areas of the country where cultural participation is lowest, a drive to foster apprenticeships within the sector, and a focus on making cultural leadership more diverse. The document also announces a full review of the museum sector for publication in 2017. Read Apollo editor Thomas Marks’s snap verdict on the white paper here.

Max Hollein appointed director of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco | ‘At some point I will do something else, and for me the main issue is not size,’ Max Hollein told Apollo in an interview last year. Now we know what that ‘something else’ is. Hollein, who is currently at the helm of three major institutions in Frankfurt – the Schirn Kunsthalle, the Städel Museum and the Liebieghaus Sculpture Collection – is to take the reins of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which comprises the de Young Museum and the Legion of Honour. Hollein’s experience of running multiple institutions simultaneously will prove invaluable for the new role, as will his track record on acquisitions: under his watch, the three Frankfurt museums have added some 2,800 works of art to their collections.

Major redevelopment for St Peter’s Seminary | For the best part of three decades, the Brutalist hulk of St Peter’s Seminary, Cardross, in the west of Scotland, has been in a state of decay. But it now looks as though the dilapidated structure – once hailed as a modernist masterpiece – may be about to be restored to its former glory. The Heritage Lottery Fund has announced that it is backing a project to convert the seminary into an arts venue called ‘Hinterland’, earmarking it for a £4.2 million lottery grant. Built between 1960 and 1966, the Roman Catholic seminary was closed by the Archdiocese of Glasgow in 1987. According to Apollo’s Gavin Stamp, it has since become ‘not just a poignant ruin but a compelling architectural monument’.

Stolen artefacts returned to Italy | Archaeological artefacts worth an estimated €9 million have been returned to Italy after being discovered by Swiss and Italian police at the Geneva Freeport complex. The premises on which the haul was discovered had been rented by Robin Symes, a British antiques dealer who had ties to Italian tomb raiders. Objects including Etruscan painted sarcophagi and sections of the floor and wall of a temple were looted from sites across the south of Italy in the 1970s and 1980s.

Export bar for Robert the Bruce’s seal | UK culture minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on a two-part bronze seal commissioned by Robert the Bruce. The objects will leave the UK unless a buyer can be found to match the asking price of £151,250. The seal was commissioned in 1322 and used to seal documents at Dunfermline Abbey, as proof of the king’s authority and endorsement. The export licence will be withheld until 21 June, with the possibility of a further extension to 21 September should a serious intention to match the asking price be expressed.

UK museums acquire important video art with help from Moving Image Fund | Museums in England have acquired films by leading video artists with funds from the £400,000 Moving Image Fund for Museums, an initiative to make the medium available to public collections outside London. Manchester’s Whitworth Gallery and the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne have jointly purchased Isaac Julien’s Ten Thousand Waves, a film exploring the deaths of 23 Chinese cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay in 2004; and together with the Imperial War Museums, the Towner has also acquired Omer Fast’s 5,000 Feet is the Best, which concentrates on the experience of remotely based drone pilots during the Middle East conflicts of the past decade.

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