Tonight, the Contemporary Art Society will fling open the doors of its new public space at 59 Central Street in London. The inauguration of CAS’s new home, designed by award-winning architects Carmody Groarke, marks a dramatic new direction for the charity, which until now has mainly acted behind the scenes, helping museums to acquire contemporary art for their permanent collections.
Director Paul Hobson is very clear about the new venue’s rationale. “The current reduction in public funding for the arts, combined with alarming proposals to remove art subjects from the curriculum in England and the unaffordability of higher education for those who would have wished to pursue a career in the Arts, will have a devastating effect on our creative economy and visual culture in Britain a decade from now,” he said in a statement.
“During the past century, the Contemporary Art Society has championed artists and brought their work to national audiences for generations, donating their works to museums and public galleries and acting as a vital conduit for London-based philanthropy to support the regions. Our new home will enable us to generate more support at an especially challenging time for the arts and artists in the UK.”
CAS’s new home is to host a programme of displays and events. It kicks off this evening with 2012 Turner Prize winner Elizabeth Price discussing her practice, including the piece “USER GROUP DISCO” (2009), recently acquired by CAS for the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. The display series opens with the work of Stephen Nelson, followed by Louisa Fairclough, Phyllida Barlow, Ivan Seal, John Stezaker, and Caroline Achaintre.