Maria Balshaw’s appointment as the new director of Tate was confirmed today after receiving the Prime Minister’s approval. Announcing the appointment, Chairman of the Trustees of Tate, Lord Browne, said Balshaw has “the vision, drive and stature to lead Tate into its next phase of development”.
A champion of Manchester’s cultural renaissance, Balshaw has been the director of the University of Manchester’s Whitworth Gallery since 2006, director of Manchester City Galleries since 2011, a board member of Arts Council England since 2014 and has recently assumed the role of Director of Culture for Manchester City Council.
She has overseen a £15 million redevelopment of the Whitworth Gallery and is credited with securing a £78 million government investment in Factory, a new arts venue and permanent home for the Manchester International Festival.
Unlike her predecessors at Tate, Balshaw is not a curator by training. She is also the first woman to be appointed to the position.
Balshaw said she looked forward to “developing Tate’s reputation as the most artistically adventurous and culturally inclusive gallery in the world”.
Current Tate Director, Sir Nicholas Serota, has been at the helm of the organisation for almost 30 years. Balshaw had been mooted to take over the role since Serota announced last September that he would be stepping down. He is due to take up the part-time role of Chairman of Arts Council England on 1 February this year.
The confirmation of Balshaw’s appointment comes shortly after it was announced last Friday (13 January) that former Labour MP Tristram Hunt has accepted the directorship of the Victoria and Albert Museum. An expert on eighteenth and nineteenth century history, Hunt’s appointment was confirmed by the V&A Trustees, the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley.
Hunt has resigned as MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central and will assume his new role in the coming months. Already, he faces questions over his position on free museum entry, which was introduced in England’s national museums by the Labour government in 2001. Previously, Hunt stated that “free entry didn’t achieve that much”.