The MAC is shortlisted for prestigious Freelands Award

Today sees the announcement of the six regional arts organisations across the UK which have been shortlisted for the annual £100,000 Freelands Award and includes The MAC in Belfast. The Award was established in 2016 by Freelands Foundation Chair and Founder, Elisabeth Murdoch and aims to raise the profile of mid- career female artists and to support the work of visual arts organisations outside London.

The third year nominations are:

  • Balctic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead
  • Dundee Contemporary, Dundee
  • Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge
  • Metropolitan Arts Centre, The MAC, Belfast
  • Spike Island, Bristol
  • Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield

The winning organisation and selected mid-career female artist will be announced in Autumn 2018. The selected panel for the 2018 award winner is: Elisabeth Murdoch (Chair); Martin Clark, Director, Camden Arts Centre; Susan Hiller, Artist; Jenni Lomax, Outgoing Director for Camden Arts Centre; and Beatrix Ruf, Curator and former Director of Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

The total value of the Award is £100,000 of which £25,000 is to be paid directly by the winning organisation to the artist they select to work with. The Award is about pushing boundaries and realising projects which an organisation could not bring to fruition without this funding opportunity. The organisation’s engagement with the selected artist will support her to create ambitious new work and to receive increasing professional recognition.

The Award’s priorities are to support projects that will enable artists to fulfil their creative aspirations, produce exceptional work, and in turn support the regional arts organisation that will exhibit this work and bring it to public attention.

Alongside the Freelands Awards shortlist announcement, the Foundation commissions an independent annual research report investigating the representation of female artists in Britain. This year’s research was carried out by Marijke Steedman and reveals that while female students enrolled in creative art and design courses continue to outnumber men, men outnumber women in the majority of activities that signify the development of an artist’s career, such as having a solo exhibition at a national gallery in London or having commercial gallery representation. In 2017 just 22% of solo shows presented by major London non-commercial galleries were by women artists and this figure has reduced since 2016.

“It is clear that women are striving to achieve the usual indicators of success by entering art competitions, applying for funding and embarking on postgraduate education.

“However this report reveals inequality in the commercial sector. 28% of artists represented by London’s major commercial galleries in 2017 were women, a fall since 2016. Only 3% of auction lots in the top ten highest grossing sales of each of the Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sales in 2017 were by women artists. These grim statistics indicate that women continue to be excluded from the mainstream commercial art market despite their best efforts to participate.” Marijke Steedman.

Hugh Mulholland, Senior Curator, the MAC said:

“We are very honoured to have been shortlisted for the Freelands Award and to be included in such great company alongside institutions whose programming we have long admired. The MAC since its inception has demonstrated a strong commitment to advancing the position of women artists at all stages of their careers. If successful, this award would enable us to work collaboratively with a mid-career female artist to create a career defining exhibition of genuine scope and ambition. This is a truly exciting opportunity and a wonderful endorsement of the work we continue to do at the MAC.’’