Twenty-nine artists shortlisted for 2019 edition of the Loewe Foundation Craft Prize A tribute to Loewe’s beginnings as a collective craft workshop in 1846, the Loewe Foundation Craft Prize (LFCP) was launched by the foundation in 2016 to celebrate excellence, artistic merit and newness in craftsmanship.

For its third edition this year, LFCP continues to present a diverse spectrum of techniques, media and modes of expression.

The finalists, who range from recently graduated artists to more well-known names, represent a spectrum of technical accomplishment, innovation and artistic vision.

Included in the international shortlist are a number of UK-based artists: Akiko Hirai, Andrea Walsh, Annie Turner, Harry Morgan, Jim Partidge & Liz Walmsley, Junko Mori, Kazuhito Takadoi, and Minhee Kim.

A panel of leading experts in design, architecture, journalism, criticism and curatorship, including the winner of last year’s prize, Scottish artist Jennifer Lee, will select from the shortlist which was narrowed down from over 2,500 submissions representing more than 100 countries.

The winner, set to receive €50,000, will be announced on 25 June 2019 during the opening of an exhibition of the finalists’ work at Isamu Noguchi’s indoor stone garden at the Sogetsu Kaikan in Tokyo.

Anatxu Zabalbeascoa, executive secretary of LFCP’s ‘experts panel’, said: “In a time when contemporary craft is constantly discussed, the prize sets the level of skills, will and artistic ambition for which craft should strive.”

Inverleith House at core of plans for new head of exhibitions at Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden Emma Nicolson, the new head of exhibitions at the Royal Botantic Gardens Edinburgh (RBGE) who joined the organisation from Skye’s Atlas Arts, has said she will be putting Inverleith House at the heart of her plans, reports The Herald.

Her comments follow controversy two years ago when the institution ceased using the gallery exclusively for contemporary art, resulting in the departure of it curator of 30 years, Paul Nesbitt.

Nicolson’s curatorial decisions will come into effect in 2020 following shows programmed by RBGE’s head of public engagement Dr Ian Edwards.

Until then, “subtle interventions” will be made as she begins writing a new arts strategy and business plan for exhibitions – a future-proofing process engaging the wider arts community in Edinburgh and RBGE staff. This involves working with the gardens’ Arts Advisory Group, which meets again this month.

Nicolson plans to place contemporary art at the forefront and sees Inverleith House as a “dynamic” space from which exhibitions can “spill out” into the surrounding landscape.

Nicolson said: “As far as I am concerned I have been employed to programme Inverleith House and re-think its future in relation to the challenging times for the world. I am looking at how we make Inverleith House more dynamic: how do we consider the welcome they get when people come in? And there’s the basement that I really want to activate as a kind of hub.”

Budget U-turns in Birmingham see cuts to arts funding scaled back The council’s previous proposal to cut arts funding by £1m have been reduced to a new total of £500,000, plus the council has also created a new £2m fund to support the city’s arts organisations, reports Birmingham Live.

Council leader Ian Ward (Labour) said: “We consulted on our budget proposals in the weeks leading to the end of the last calendar year.

“We have listened, as we always do, to the feedback from that consultation and we are proposing a number of changes to those proposals in response to what people have told us.”

Many cuts are still going ahead, however, with the council having to save £46m next year, rising to £85m over the next four years up to 2022/23.

Venice to move forward with €10 tourist tax The new policy, which could add just over €50m to the city’s budget, goes into effect on 1 May just before the opening of the 2019 Venice Biennale in early May.

On 30 December 2018 Venetian mayor Luigi Brugnaro unveiled the new tourist tax – a ‘season-dependent fee’ charged to visitors, levying between €2.50 to €10.00. Anyone caught attempting to avoid the fee will be fined up to €450.

According to the Italian tourist bureau, Venice attracts up to 30 million tourists each year – a number that outmatches residents of the city 600-to-1.

In a Twitter video posted on at the end of last year, Brugnaro adds: “This will help us to better manage the city, keep it clean, and offer visitors better services.”

1. Heeseung Koh, A regular sign, 2018, walnut, acrylic, 925 silver, paint, dimensions variable
2. Protestors outside Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, on 23 October 2016. Photo: Chris Sharratt

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