Arts Council England has not included the Bristol-based visual arts organisations Arnolfini and Situations in its National Portfolio 2018-22. Both were part of the portfolio for 2015-18 and Situations’ founding director Claire Doherty was recently appointed as director of Arnolfini, starting her new role on 1 August.

ACE, however, says it has instead ring fenced £3.34 million “to support visual arts activity in Bristol”.

Speaking during the NPO announcement in Leicester this morning, ACE head Darren Henley said that Arnolfini was “not a financially viable organisation with its current business model”.

He added that “although we are withdrawing money from Arnolfini we are ring fencing that money within Bristol and for the visual arts in Bristol.

“We will work with the artistic leaders in Bristol and with visual artists to ensure that we invest in some really strong visual arts in a way that is sustainable over a long period of time. Arnolfini may well prove to be an important part of that solution going forward.”

ACE chair Nicholas Serota added: “Arnolfini is one of the great visual arts organisations in the country but nothing stands still and since Arnolfini was created there are a whole range of other visual arts organisations in Bristol, from Spike Island to museums and so on.

“…we are ringfencing that money and we want to work with Arnolfini, with Situations, with the other visual arts organisations to ensure that Bristol as a great city with a long tradition in the visual arts can move forward into the 21st century with a programme that is comparable with any city in the country.”

For the 2015-18 portfolio, Arnolfini received annual funding of £750,000 (£2.25 million over three years) while arts producers Situations – which joined the portfolio in 2015 – was awarded a total of £225,000 for the period.

Disappointing news

A short statement on the Arnolfini website responding to the news said: “Arnolfini is disappointed by the news that the organisation will not be a part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio 2018-2022.

“We very much welcome the opportunity to be a part of the conversation on the future of the visual arts in Bristol and look forward to working with our colleagues, funders and peers over the coming months.”

Claire Doherty said in a statement published on the Situations website: “I am disappointed that Situations will not continue to be part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio beyond March 2018 and I am also in touch with the board and staff at Arnolfini.

“I am passionate about the future of arts and culture in Bristol and welcome the Arts Council’s ongoing commitment to the visual arts in Bristol. I hope to draw on all that we have achieved at Situations over the past 15 years to play a part in reimagining the future for the arts ecology in this extraordinary city.”

John Kieffer, the chair of Situations, said: “Claire Doherty’s departure from the organisation as director marks a moment of change for the organisation after 15 years of supporting artists to make extraordinary new artworks and unlocking opportunities for people and place.

“We will be making an announcement in due course about the future of the organisation, but our intention is to find a way for what Claire has built here to be continued in some form in the future.”

Additional reporting by Stephen Palmer

Arnolfini, Bristol. Photo: Adrian Pingstone via Wikipedia

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