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ISIS recaptures Palmyra

Plus: ACE report gives mixed picture of arts sector diversity, UK grants £2.5 million to preserve historic Kabul district; and recommended reading

12 December 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

ISIS recaptures Palmyra | ISIS forces have recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra. In recent months the group has been on retreat on all fronts, with both the Russian-backed regime forces and Kurdish and FSA rebels backed by US and coalition air support driving them back to Raqqa and Mosul. Palmyra, which was seized by ISIS in May 2015, was recaptured by regime forces in March, but has fallen again following a four-day battle. The militants previously destroyed several significant structures in the vicinity, and it is feared they may resume the symbolic pillaging of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

ACE report on diversity presents mixed findings | Arts Council England has published its second annual diversity report, the findings of which give some cause for encouragement, Yet while the proportion of black and ethnic minority people employed in the arts sector has risen slightly, making up 17 per cent of the total workforce, they are still critically under-represented in senior roles. Meanwhile, arts sector representation for the disabled remains ‘strikingly low’, says the Guardian, and in terms of visitor numbers to arts events and museums, BME, low income, and disabled people also ‘continue to be underrepresented’.

Project to protect historic area of Kabul granted £2.5 million by UK government | A conservation project to protect the historic Kabul neighbourhood of Murad Khane has been awarded £2.5 million by the UK government, reports the Sunday Times (£). The project is one of seven conservation schemes in the Near East and North Africa, the rest of which are expected to be announced by DCMS and the British Council in the coming days.

Nicholas Serota wins Bard curatorial award | Outgoing Tate director Nicholas Serota has been confirmed as the 2017 laureate of Bard College’s Audrey Irma’s Award for Curatorial Excellence. Serota, who is set to take up a part-time role as chairman of Arts Council England next year, was described as a ‘towering figure in the world of art and museums’ by Tom Eccles, head of Bard’s Center for Curatorial Studies. The award comes with a ‘no strings attached’ prize of $25,000.

Recommended reading | In the New Yorker, Negar Azimi investigates new museums in the Gulf States and the working conditions of the enormous migrant labour force building them. Meanwhile in the Observer, Laura Cumming looks at the National Gallery’s ‘Australia’s Impressionists’ show and finds it rewarding, if ‘counterintuitive’, while the New York Timess Amy Qin goes on the trail of the missing masterpieces allegedly squirrelled away by Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos after the former was ousted from power in the Philippines in 1986.

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