The Plus Tate network, allergist http://www.tate.org.uk/about/our-work/national-partnerships/plus-tate has recently expanded its membership by inviting 16 more institutions to join, capsule including Modern Art Oxford, Milton Keynes Gallery and John Hansard Gallery, all Frame and Reference partners. They join existing Plus Tate members, Turner Contemporary and Towner to form a strong South East presence in the UK wide network that includes some of our best galleries and visual arts commissioning agencies.
Plus Tate was conceived as a way to share the Tate’s collections and expertise by building a network that aimed to utilize resources and drive collaboration between regional galleries and visual arts organisations.
Launched in 2010, the original Plus Tate cohort of organisations included Turner Contemporary and Towner; both key regional galleries in the South East, developed and built with a clear agenda to contribute to the regeneration of their respective coastal towns of Margate and Eastbourne. Research published in January as Plus Tate; Connecting Art to People and Places highlights the considerable impact they and other regional galleries have had on their local area in terms of economic benefit (GVA). This is not, however, the only measure of their success; all Plus Tate partners are selected for the national and international reputations of their artistic programmes as well as their impressive audience figures.
Recent government statistics, highlighted by the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-31533110, show fluctuating audience figures for the Tate galleries over the last 6 years. Compared with the growing popularity of our regional galleries with local audiences (95% of Turner Contemporary’s overall audiences since opening in 2011 have been domestic visitors) this suggests that people are voting with their feet and not automatically traveling to London to enjoy high quality exhibitions.
When all arts and cultural organisations are facing tough times ahead, networks such as Plus Tate and CVAN http://www.cvan.org.uk offer them the chance to make the most of limited resources, by working together.
In announcing the new Plus Tate membership, Nicholas Serota has said:
“Expanding the network will significantly change Plus Tate’s texture. The larger network will bring different kinds of experience into the pool and facilitate greater cooperation between partners.’
MK Gallery Director Anthony Spira welcomed the news, commenting “We look forward to being part of the Plus Tate network, sharing knowledge and experience with peers across the country for the benefit of our respective organisations and audiences.”