Belfast Telegraph

Art gallery's award will help new Belfast talent

By Victoria Leonard

A Belfast art gallery has won a prestigious £369,000 award to help support emerging talent in the contemporary arts.

Cathedral Quarter charity Ps Squared Gallery has been recognised by the Freelands Foundation, which was founded by Elisabeth Murdoch in 2015 to support artists and cultural institutions, as well as broadening audiences for the visual arts.

The award is part of the new Artists Programme, which gives £1.5m to galleries and other bodies across the UK to support the contemporary arts.

Ps Squared Gallery will receive £369,000 over a five-year period to provide support, materials and potential exhibitions for 20 emerging artists and curators.

Ps Squared launched in 1994 as an artists' studio collective in Belfast. From 2004, a small ground floor shop in the building was used as a project space.

This became an important platform for artists to experiment and create new work, and has served as a springboard for their careers.

Board member of Ps Squared Gallery Bronagh Lawson said that the award would allow the gallery to "implement plans that we have had in place for a long time".

"You have the current funding situation in the arts in Northern Ireland, where there is an ever-increasing demand from an ever-decreasing pot, and we have a very vibrant artistic community," she said. "There are currently over 350 visual artists in Belfast.

"It's very competitive and there is a lot of talent.

"This award allows us to develop that talent further."

Chairman Paddy McCann said that he and the rest of the board were "delighted with the news, and look forward to sharing knowledge and talent with the rest of the UK".

He added: "The creative vitality of Belfast produces excellent artistic talent, but because of our geographical location, opportunities are limited for progression.

"The award will enable us to implement plans to help the city flourish and give the artistic community an opportunity to develop."

The winners of the funding were chosen by a selection panel which was led by Ms Murdoch, daughter of media tycoon Rupert, artists Simeon Barclay and Mark Wallinger, arts director Polly Staple and writer Sacha Craddock.

Melanie Cassoff, managing director of the Freelands Foundation, said that the five-year term of the grants adds stability to the gallery's work with emerging artists.

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