Stephen Deuchar to step down as Director of Art Fund in 2020 following charity's "most successful decade"

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Stephen Deuchar to step down as Director of Art Fund in 2020 following charity's "most successful decade"
Since Dr Deuchar’s appointment in January 2010, Art Fund has doubled its membership, greatly increased its grant giving in range and volume, and radically extended its relationship with museums and their audiences across the UK. © David Levene.

LONDON.- Dr Stephen Deuchar announced today that he will be stepping down as director of Art Fund on 31 March 2020, after ten years in post. Previously he served as the first director of Tate Britain from 1998 to 2010 (for which he was made CBE), and before that was curator of paintings then exhibitions director at Royal Museums Greenwich (from 1985-1998).

Since Dr Deuchar’s appointment in January 2010, Art Fund has doubled its membership, greatly increased its grant giving in range and volume, and radically extended its relationship with museums and their audiences across the UK. He said: “I have relished my time here, but after ten years I want to try new things, both in the culture sector (for example I have recently joined the board of the British Council) and beyond, and I look forward to these fresh opportunities immensely. I realise that as a place to work the Art Fund will be hard to match: it’s a great institution, with a fine Chair and Board of Trustees, and a senior management team and staff of exceptional talent. I feel privileged to have been entrusted with leading us through a phase of significant development and modernisation”.

Lord Smith of Finsbury, Chairman of Art Fund’s Board of Trustees, said: “Stephen has been an inspiring director who has led Art Fund through perhaps the most successful decade in its history. He will be greatly missed by all of us here, and by the museum curators and audiences across the country he has championed so energetically and effectively through the creation of the National Art Pass, the establishment of a major fundraising operation, a series of multi-million pound public appeals, the introduction of several new grant giving programmes alongside the significant expansion of our acquisitions support, and the development of Art Fund Museum of the Year as a national institution. The Board thanks him warmly for his exceptional service and wishes him well in all his future endeavours. We will begin the search for his successor shortly”.

Art Fund was founded in 1903 as the national charity for art and museums. It is funded by subscribing members across the UK and a wide range of other supporters including patrons, trusts and foundations.

Highlights since 2010 have included:

• the introduction of the National Art Pass in 2011, which has helped to double Art Fund membership since then, currently standing at 151,000. It is supported by the Art Map, the magazine Art Quarterly, the Art Guide app and an additional range of innovative digital services

• grants totalling £40M to help UK museums acquire 1,000 works of art and objects, including (for example) Titian's 'Diana and Callisto', for which a record £2M grant was offered to the National Gallery in 2012; Constable’s ‘Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows’ acquired by Tate with four other UK partners museums; Steve McQueen’s ‘Ashes’ for the Whitworth, Manchester; Lubaina Himid’s ‘Toussaint l’Ouverture’ for MIMA, Middlesbrough, 2018. Nearly 80% of grants are now made to museums and galleries outside London

• the management of a series of major public appeals to help save works of art for the nation: for example securing the Staffordshire Hoard for West Midlands museums (2010), Brueghel’s ‘Procession to Calvary’ for the National Trust (2011), Van Dyck’s final self-portrait for the NPG (2014), and both Yinka Shonibare’s ‘Ship in a Bottle’ (2012) and the Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I (2016) for Royal Museums Greenwich

• the most successful fundraising campaign in Art Fund’s history, saving the Wedgwood Collection from being auctioned off in 2014 by the Pension Protection Fund after a legal dispute following the famous manufacturing company’s bankruptcy. Art Fund intervened as a broker between the various parties, and, with the help of the National Lottery Heritage Fund and a public appeal which raised over £2M in six weeks, itself purchased the Collection for £15.75M - before donating it immediately to the V&A on condition that it remained in the Wedgwood Museum at Barleston, near Stoke

• the creation of a series of grant funding schemes to support the UK's curatorial profession. The Jonathan Ruffer curatorial grants were established in 2012 to help curators meet research and travel costs; two Art Fund traineeships, funded by the Vivmar Foundation, are offered at the National Gallery to help curators make careers in UK regional museums; the New Collecting Awards, which annually select a number of young curators for special funding to support their collecting projects, were established in 2014, and the Headley Fellowships with Art Fund, giving senior curators funding for research projects, were launched earlier this year. The Weston Loan Programme, to help curators from regional museums to secure loans of works of art from national museums, was launched in 2017 in collaboration with the Garfield Weston Foundation

• the radical expansion of Art Fund’s contemporary art programme, including supporting the commissioning of new works (e.g. Rachel Whiteread’s 'Tree of Life' for the Whitechapel Gallery, Mark Wallinger’s 'Writ in Water' for the National Trust at Runnymede, Katrina Palmer’s 'Coffin Jump' at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Tania Kovats’ 'The Space of Reading' at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and Jeremy Deller's Peterloo monument in Manchester, 2019). Strategic collecting projects following Art Fund International (which gave £4.2m for the acquisition of international contemporary art by regional museums between 2010 and 2015) have included 'Renew' with the Esme Fairbairn Foundation, and a fund for modern and contemporary photography from the Middle East at the V&A and the British Museum

• the establishment of Art Happens in 2014, the crowdfunding platform run by Art Fund for UK museums to use free of charge, which has so far led to the successful realization of 39 projects by 38 institutions. A new service, Art Tickets, providing an integrated facility for museums to sell exhibition and event tickets online, was launched in 2017. Art Fund is currently developing a new service to extend and promote to its members the organization of hundreds of special events in museums across the UK

• the re-organization of Art Fund’s staff, structure, and offices, which moved to its new headquarters in Granary Square in 2014, the development of its brand and identity, and a significantly broader and more diverse demographic base. Amongst new and growing constituencies within the membership are UK students, 25,000 of whom have so far joined through the Student Art Pass: it was first launched in 2014 as a free pass sponsored by individuals and trusts and then re-launched in 2017 as a product purchased by students themselves, bringing them a wide and growing range of opportunities in the arts

• a national advocacy programme on behalf of UK museums, arguing the case to government and others for greater public funding and philanthropic support, lobbying for improvements to the system of controlling the export of nationally-important works of art, and the intensive development of Art Fund Museum of the Year (known until 2012 as the Prize for Museums and Galleries) as a vehicle for promoting the achievements of the sector and raising its public profile. The judging panel has been chaired and selected by Stephen Deuchar since 2013. The winner in 2019 was St Fagans National Museum of History, Wales

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