Can private funds soothe public cuts? Frieze London looks to boost UK arts sector with launch of new awards and initiatives


Frieze London is launching new awards and initiatives this year to mark the fair’s 20th anniversary, boosting UK arts organisations and public institutions at a challenging time for the culture sector. This year sees the launch of the inaugural Arts Council Collection Fund at the fair which will be selected by a panel comprising Nicholas Serota, Arts Council England chair, and Ralph Rugoff, director of London’s Hayward Gallery.

“The acquisitions fund will select one or several UK-based early-career or overlooked artists from Frieze London to become part of the Arts Council Collection, the most widely circulated national loan collection of modern and contemporary British art,” a statement says. The budget for the fund is a minimum of £40,000.

The announcement comes at a critical moment for the visuals arts scene in the UK, with London’s institutions facing a £50m cut in Arts Council Funding over the next three years. Among the worst hit are the Camden Art Centre where subsidies have dropped from £920,000 to £600,000.

“Following the Arts Council’s devastating cuts last year, philanthropic initiatives are more necessary than ever,” a spokesperson for Frieze told the Telegraph.

“It’s only fitting that we celebrate our 20th anniversary by providing a platform to the arts institutions who make London’s cultural landscape shine bright,” Eva Langret, director of Frieze London, tells The Art Newspaper. “We all know that the wider context for regional museums can be challenging, and at Frieze London we want to pay tribute the wider arts ecosystem that continues to sustain the creative life of all of us,”

For another initiative, Frieze will support an artist’s film programme at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London (ICA) during Frieze week. Participating galleries at the fair can submit works by artists they represent; a programme of films at the ICA will then be selected from the open call.

Frieze will also be collaborating with the philanthropic arts organisation, Spirit Now London. The group of “art patrons, collectors, and friends” emphasising their support of women and emerging artists will be running the second edition of its Spirit Now London Acquisition Prize. This year, the group will choose a work from the fair to donate to Hepworth Wakefield museum in Yorkshire, a major regional venue.

There is also a nod from Frieze to France—which now hosts the rival fair Paris + par Art Basel—with a new award realised in collaboration with the Comite Professionnel des Galeries d’Art (CPGA), the country’s commercial gallery association. The new £10,000 CPGA Prize recognises a French or France-based artist exhibiting at the fair, highlighting their work for international audiences.

In addition, the Outset Contemporary Art Fund returns to Frieze London following a 12-year stint when it helped acquire more than 100 works for Tate via the Outset Frieze Tate Fund. This year, Outset will show works by 18 artists in the entrance corridor, who have received the Outset Studiomakers Prize. The award, launched in 2017, grants MA Fine Art Graduates a year’s rent-free studio space in London.

“The Frieze corridor commission [entitled Channelling] will be the first time the Prize cohorts have worked together and reflects years of investment in London’s creative talent. The installation will be led by curator Annie Jael Kwan who Outset has supported throughout several international projects,” an Outset spokesperson says.

Meanwhile, the Contemporary Art Society’s Collections Fund, which acquires works for CAS member museums each year, will aid the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge this year.

“The work selected will explore power hierarchies from a postcolonial perspective, with the aim to decolonialise the institution’s collection which consists of art as well as global historic artefacts,” a Frieze statement statement.

Frieze London also marks its 20th anniversary by inviting eight leading artists to select other artists to receive solo stands. Meanwhile, its sister fair Frieze Masters, for art before 1980, will introduce a special section dedicated to women artists.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here