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Going Public International Art Collectors in Sheffield

Every major city has a publicly owned collection of visual art that plays a significant role in its cultural identity. The development of these collections has changed, particularly over the last fifty years, with already limited acquisition budgets and stretched staffing there is still more change to come. The connection between a culturally vibrant city and an economically successful city is undeniable; the two things feed each other and result in a place where people want to live, study, work and invest.

The core of the project is the display of works from four major international collections in a series of exhibitions across five venues in Sheffield – Graves Gallery, Millennium Gallery, Sheffield Cathedral, Site Gallery and Sheffield Institute of Arts at Sheffield Hallam University. The exhibitions are accompanied by a summit event bringing international art world figures together to debate the role of private philanthropy for the arts in the Twenty-first Century. Drawing on the resources of Sheffield Hallam University and the other partners, a comprehensive events and educational programme will engage with a wide range of audiences, while a legacy programme helps develop the knowledge of business leaders and civic institutions regarding the role of art in a thriving city.

With the current uncertain economic climate, and against a backdrop of continuing cuts to public funding for the arts, cultural organisations are increasingly being encouraged to look beyond the state for their income and support and thus the need for private philanthropy has never been more important. But who are the philanthropists of the Twenty-first Century? What motivates them? Do they share the same social conscience of their historical predecessors? In what ways can they help? What is the role of the private collection in the public collection? How can museums and galleries unlock the potential of philanthropy in these tough economic times? And, can we build Twenty-first Century collections together?

Ultimately, the aim of this project is to address these questions by directly engaging four major art collectors in this debate. Going Public shifts the debate outside London and into the North, with its very different economic climate.

S├ębastien Montabonel and Mark Doyle

Project Initiators and Curators at large