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Local businesses offer New Spaces for local artists

05 July 2018

Local businesses are taking part in a special programme aimed at providing new platforms to showcase the work of local artists starting this month.

New Spaces is a programme of sixteen contemporary art exhibitions across four venues in Derry and Sion Mills beginning in July. Led by Visual Artists Ireland in collaboration with Derry City & Strabane District Council, supported by the Arts Council of N. Ireland through the National Lottery Challenge Fund and Arts and Business Northern Ireland, New Spaces hopes to make contemporary art more accessible throughout the region.

Four curators were selected from a competitive open call to each produce four exhibitions inside a brewery, a café, a thatched cottage and a renovated 19th Century stables.

Welcoming the initiative, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor John Boyle, said it was an innovative approach to celebrating the local arts.

“I am delighted to see local businesses supporting the New Spaces programme and providing alternative locations in which to enjoy the work of some of our most talented local artists and curators,” he declared.

“Four local businesses premises will be transformed into temporary gallery spaces which will provide a unique backdrop for the artwork, and give more people the chance to experience contemporary art. It’s a clever and interesting way to bring art to new audiences and to enrich our daily lives with new and challenging cultural experiences.”

The four curators taking part in the programme, Edy Fung, Rebecca Strain, Mirjami Schuppert and Alice Butler, will create exhibitions that will bring diverse new work to the region from artists across Ireland and further afield. The four local venues taking part are The Walled City Brewery in Ebrington, Gwyn's Cafe and Pavilion, Brooke Park, The Cottage in The Craft Village, and Sion Stables in the heritage village of Sion Mills. The first exhibitions across all the venues will open on 14 July 2018.

John Kerr, Arts & Culture Manager with Derry City and Strabane District Council, said the programme offered a fantastic opportunity to enhance the cultural offering here. “New Spaces provides an excellent model for local business and cultural venues to engage and be active partners in the development of the district’s well respected arts and cultural offer. The project is made possible by the commitment of Void Gallery, the Centre for Contemporary Art and Nerve Visual, who are valued partners in this project.”

Director of Strategic Development and Research with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Nick Livingston, said: “The New Spaces project is a perfect example of how the Arts Council’s National Lottery Challenge Fund, combined with investment from Derry City and Strabane District Council, can help deliver a joint strategic objective; to increase the provision of gallery space in the North West.

“Not only have new gallery spaces emerged in wonderful venues such as The Walled City Brewery, but in the process, new skills have been developed. The benefits have been felt by those emerging curators and artists employed by the programme to bring high quality, contemporary artwork to new and existing audiences. Well done to all involved.”

While N. Ireland boasts many impressive art galleries showcasing exceptional art work from around the world, New Spaces aims to address the difficulties faced by emerging local artists to find places to show their work. The programme engages with the private sector to create opportunities for local artists, and develops the skills of local arts professionals to create work in alternative public spaces.

To find out more about the programme and the curators, go to http://visualartists.org.uk/newspaces/