Thursday, May 28, 2020

10 x £10,000 bursaries to artists to replace Turner Prize 2020

There will be no Turner Prize in 2020. Instead Tate Britain has announced that one-off bursaries of £10,000 to 10 artists.

These will be announced in about one month's time - in late June.

The change of thinking has also added an extra £60,000 to the prize pot. The bursaries have been made possible thanks to generous funding from a group of Tate’s supporters, including The Ampersand Foundation.

NO EXHIBITION AND NO TURNER PRIZE IN 2020
both are replaced by 10 bursaries X £10k

The Turner Bursaries: why the change?


The very obvious problem in terms of the preparation required for an exhibition is that people are NOT at work and NOT doing what they would normally do to enable the annual Turner Prize Exhibition to go ahead.

This is simply not achievable under current restrictions.

An alternative was sought - and the decision was made to provide financial support to a larger selection of artists through this period of profound disruption and uncertainty.

Alex Farquharson, Director of Tate Britain and chair of the Turner Prize jury, said:
“Gallery closures and social distancing measures are vitally important, but they are also causing huge disruption to the lives and livelihoods of artists. The practicalities of organising a Turner Prize exhibition are impossible in the current circumstances, so we have decided to help support even more artists during this exceptionally difficult time. I think JMW Turner, who once planned to leave his fortune to support artists in their hour of need, would approve of our decision. I appreciate visitors will be disappointed that there is no Turner Prize this year, but we can all look forward to it returning in 2021.”
One can only surmise after the split prize last year that this might be another example of "how we do things differently after the Pandemic" and that the Bursary idea might catch on.

It's a lot fairer than giving one artist a very large sum of money - and this move has also leveraged out more money to support artists i.e. there's an extra £60,000 in the prize pot!
  • the normal prize post is £40,000
  • this gets split between a First Prize of £25,000 and three x £5,000 for the three other shortlisted artists
Those eligible for the Turner Prize are artists born or based in the UK for outstanding exhibitions or other presentations of their work in the previous 12 months.

The change in the prize pot makes me wonder 

  • how much it costs to put on the Turner Prize exhibition at Tate Britain and 
  • whether the person who wins the Prize should be given the option of a very big cash prize or a much smaller cash prize and an exhibition at Tate Britain.


The Turner Jury

The members of the jury who will determine who gets the bursaries are: 
  • Richard Birkett, Curator at Large at the Institute of Contemporary Arts; 
  • Sarah Munro, Director of BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art; 
  • Fatoş Üstek, Director of Liverpool Biennial; and 
  • Duro Olowu, designer and curator.
The Tate says they've spent the last 12 months they've visited hundreds of exhibitions in preparation for selecting the nominees - but surely that should be 9 months if you disregard lockdown and their inability to visit any exhibitions

In line with the existing prize criteria, they are invited to nominate British artists based on their contribution to new developments in contemporary art at this time. 

The new plan is that they should hold a virtual meeting to select the list of 10 artists, which will be announced in late June. 

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