Tonight sees the highly-anticipated launch of TPG Contemporaries, a young patrons group created by The Photographers’ Gallery to nurture and consolidate a new generation of art collectors and philanthropists in London, and beyond.

The membership scheme offers young patrons a chance to benefit from unique access and insight into the world of contemporary photography through an inspiring series of salon-style events, curator-led tours, studio visits, dinners and international trips to festivals and fairs with artists, collectors and academics.

“We felt it was time to be targeting a new demographic,” says The Photographers’ Gallery Director, Brett Rogers, explaining the need for the initiative. “Our existing Patrons scheme tends to cater to a more mature audience and we realised that we were missing out on those audiences who are coming to photography through a slightly different route – perhaps through design, media or fashion.”

The launch also marks the first anniversary of The Photographers’ Gallery’s reopening at its premises on Ramilles Street in Central London, an effort that involved raising no less than £8.9 million as part of its capital campaign. “Having been open for a year now, we wanted to consider different ways in using our wonderful new gallery spaces,” Rogers says. “So in a way it was the perfect mechanism to celebrate our first birthday in the building.”

TPG Contemporaries is supported by an Advisory Committee, led by Chairman Nick Hackworth, Director of Paradise Row, charged with growing and developing the culture of private giving in support of The Photographers’ Gallery’s diverse public programme of exhibitions, education projects, talks and events. Other committee members are: Marisa Bellani, Constantin Bjerke, Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Lara Bohinc, Charlie Fellowes, Ori Gersht, Izzy Lawrence, Idris Khan, Alexander Montague-Sparey, Jon Rafman, Taryn Simon, Tim Walker, Minnie Weisz and Gregg Wilson.

As for the unique prospects and challenges for an institution specialising in photography in 2013 Rogers cites the requirement “to balance all the competing needs within the public programme against the need to attract a large number of visitors,” as paramount. “With our new digital programme,” she adds, “We would also like to extend the reach of all our online activities and programmes to enable us to reach wider audiences. In these tough economic times, there is also the challenge to secure corporate support for all our public programmes.”

The inception of TPG Contemporaries then is a significant step, one that can only help to raise the floor further for London’s beacon for photography, and the infrastructure that supports it. But how far does Rogers think London really has to come before it can rival photo capitals such as New York and Paris?

“London is catching up fast with both New York and Paris in terms of the breadth on offer within photography to those interested in the medium,” Rogers says. “There has been an increase in the number of shows within the public gallery system over the past few years. New venues such as Somerset House have recently come on board who seem to be offering a broad range of popular photography shows and very soon Media Space opens in the Science Museum. Within this context, The Photographers’ Gallery remains the only institution with a young patrons group dedicated to photography.”

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