Sally Shaw appointed Director of Firstsite, Colchester

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The Chair and Trustees of Firstsite are delighted to announce that Sally Shaw has been appointed Director - 9 February 2016 -- and will take up her role in April 2016.

"Sally Shaw has had an extraordinary career and we are lucky to have attracted one of the brightest stars of the art world to Colchester

Sally Shaw, currently Head of Programme at Modern Art Oxford, has been working to bring art to diverse audiences for over 15 years. Exhibitions of note that she has commissioned include Barbara Kruger, Stuart Brisley and Love Is Enough: Andy Warhol and William Morris, curated by the Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller which received an Exceptional Award from Arts Council England.

Prior to her time at Modern Art Oxford, Shaw was Deputy Head of Culture for the Mayor of London. Here she led a wide range of visual art programmes including the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square and a number of high profile contemporary art commissions for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Alongside her commissioning work, Shaw led a long-term strategic programme to develop artist studio provision across London.

From 2006 – 2010 Shaw was Senior Curator for Art on the Underground where she programmed a broad range of ambitious and unconventional artist commissions for a daily audience of four million London Underground passengers.

Shaw is currently a board member of Eastside Projects in Birmingham and was previously Chair of the London Contemporary Visual Arts Network (CVAN).

"Sally Shaw has had an extraordinary career and we are lucky to have attracted one of the brightest stars of the art world to Colchester,” says Noorzaman Rashid, Chairman of the Firstsite Board of Trustees. “The challenges at Firstsite are still great but we are going from strength to strength. Visitor numbers are already 30% greater than last year and levels of community engagement continue to grow."

Councillor Tim Young, Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture, Colchester Borough Council, commented: "Sally Shaw comes to Firstsite with a superb pedigree. She is just the right person to build on the work of the last twelve months and to take Firstsite forward with confidence and a degree of excitement. We, at the Borough Council, look forward to working with her."

Councillor Roger Hirst, Cabinet Member for Transport, Planning and Environment, Essex County Council added: “Sally Shaw joins Firstsite at a very exciting time in its development and I’m confident that she will build on the excellent work that has already been done. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience and I’m delighted that she has agreed to take up the position of Director.”

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: “Firstsite is an important part of the arts scene in the East of England. We want to see the gallery continue to exhibit exciting and enjoyable works of contemporary visual arts for a broad audience, both in Colchester and more widely across the region. With the support of Colchester Borough Council and Essex County Council, the gallery has made progress in the last 12 months and Sally’s appointment will continue that momentum. We look forward to seeing her build on the development that has been achieved so far, working with the board to create a strong and successful gallery.”

Notes to editors:
About Firstsite
Firstsite, in Colchester, is the East of England’s contemporary visual arts organisation based in the award winning building designed by internationally renowned Uruguayan architect Rafael Vinoly.

Since opening in September 2011 we have welcomed half a million visitors and established a reputation as a gallery of regional and national importance presenting a varied, popular and challenging programme of exhibitions, commissions, residencies and screenings.

With an annual turnover of £2 million, we have increased our visitor numbers from 80,000 in 2014 to 125,000 in 2015 and continue to offer free entry.

Firstsite builds relationships between art, artists and people through the delivery of high quality exhibitions supported through our educational activities and our public programmes that engage diverse audiences and local communities. Firstsite offers a wide-ranging programme of creative events and activities – from drop-in sessions for parents and toddlers, young peoples’ creative development, to arts and craft courses for adults, film screenings from across the world, talks and debates in its state of the art auditorium.

Firstsite works with museum, gallery and cultural partners across the UK and internationally. Firstsite is proud to be a partner of Plus Tate, an 18-strong affiliation of regional galleries, including The Baltic in Gateshead, Turner Contemporary in Margate and The Hepworth Wakefield, which join together to exchange ideas, knowledge, skills and resources, as well as programmes and collections.

Firstsite has worked with some of the most influential artists of our time including Louise Bourgeois, Barbara Hepworth, Yoko Ono, Bridget Riley, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Anthony Gormley, Grayson Perry and Ai Wei Wei. In 2016 Firstsite will show the work of the pop artist Andy Warhol. In Summer 2016 it will feature a retrospective of the work of the President of Magnum Photographers, and well-known chronicler of British life, Martin Parr.

About Arts Council England
Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

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