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The week in art news – Firstsite wins Artfund Museum of the Year award

Plus: John Booth appointed chair of the National Gallery in London | French culture budget to exceed €4bn for the first time | and recent museum appointments

24 September 2021

Firstsite, the contemporary art centre that opened in Colchester in 2011, is the winner of the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year award. The £100,000 prize is awarded annually to a museum or gallery in the UK, although last year an increased total of £200,000 was shared between the five nominated museums, owing to the pandemic. The other shortlisted museums this year were the Centre for Contemporary Art in Derry-Londonderry, Experience Barnsley, the Thackray Museum of Medicine in Leeds, and Timespan in the Scottish coastal village of Helmsdale.

The new chair of the National Gallery in London is John Booth, it was announced this week. He succeeds Tony Hall, a former director-general of the BBC who resigned in May this year amid controversy over Martin Bashir’s interview with Princess Diana in 1995 and the shortcomings of the subsequent investigation. Booth, a venture capital investor who has donated money to the Conservative party, is currently chair of The Prince’s Trust and Pallant House Gallery in Chichester and sits on the boards of a number of other cultural organisations; his term as chair of the National Gallery runs for four years.

The French ministry of culture’s budget will exceed €4 billion for the first time next year. Culture minister Roselyne Bachelot announced the draft budget, up from €3.8 billion in 2021, at a press conference on Wednesday. Its goal, she said in a statement, is to support the return to activity across the cultural sectors as well as to help build their future. The budget will now go to parliament for approval.

In museum appointments: Kristy Edmunds has been appointed director of Mass MoCA. Currently director of the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, Edmunds will take over in October from Joseph C. Thompson who helped found the institution and has led it for 32 years. And in the UK, Clarrie Willis, currently senior curator of contemporary British art at Tate Britain, will be the new director of Turner Contemporary in Margate. She takes over from Victoria Pomeroy, the founding director of Turner Contemporary, who is the new chief executive officer of The Box in Plymouth.

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