The Birmingham gallery and studio space Grand Union is making plans for its long-term future after securing £130,000 investment from Arts Council England and appointing former Mac Birmingham director Dorothy Wilson MBE as its new chair.
The Digbeth-based organisation – whose Prem Sahib show featured in a-n writers’ best exhibitions of 2016 – was founded in 2010 by a group of 15 artists and curators. Since then, it has established itself as a key contemporary art venue in the city with a focus on both emerging artists and curators.
Based at Minerva Works – a complex of art spaces and businesses, a short walk from Birmingham city centre – current holders of Grand Union’s eight studios include Stuart Whipps, Simon & Tom Bloor, Juneau Projects and Elizabeth Rowe.
The ACE funding will be used to support a two-year programme of new exhibitions and artistic projects.
Grand Union director Cheryl Jones described the ACE investment as “a vote of confidence in our work”, adding: “Grand Union is recognised nationally and internationally as an important voice in contemporary art, and one of very few arts organisations in the UK that actively develop and support emerging curators in their chosen career.
“The future looks bright and over the next two years we have plans to work with artists including Liz Magic Laser (USA), Alex Cecchetti (France), Seecum Cheung (Coventry/Netherlands), Rory Pilgrim (Netherlands) and Susie Green (Newcastle).”
Grand Union also plans to launch a new curatorial development programme for up and coming curators, working with a range of partners including University of Birmingham, interfaith youth charity The Feast, Queer arts and culture festival Shout, and Birmingham LGBT.
New chair Dorothy Wilson said: “Grand Union is a huge asset to Birmingham and my priority as chair is to secure its long-term future in the city. Our board and staff have visionary ambitions and exciting plans.”
She added that the organisation is looking to secure a new venue in Warwick Bar, a conservation area in Digbeth that was formerly home to many canalside factories in the 18th and 19th century. The area is close to the proposed HS2 (high-speed rail network) arrival point in the city.
“Our ambitions to nurture and support artists, alongside developments to our gallery and our experimental programme of exhibitions and events, combine to focus our determination to be a leading agent in the 21st century creative revolution.”
The next exhibition at Grand Union is ‘Hand and Mind’, with Alex Cecchetti, Liz Magic Laser, Hanne Lippard, Jesper List Thomsen and Hagar Tenenbaum, curated by Vanessa Boni, 3 February – 25 March 2017.
1. ‘Gongoozler’ exhibition, installation view, inaugural show at Grand Union, Birmingham, with work by Broomberg & Chanarin, Roderick Buchanan, Ruth Ewan, Josephine Flynn, Will Holder, Christopher Hodson, Kristina Norman, Cai Nyahoe, Elizabeth Price and Jon Wilkes, 27 March – 1 May 2010
2. Alex Cecchetti, sketch for Dance Room, Grand Union 2017